Oregon Gov. Kate Brown lifted almost all of her COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on Wednesday, June 30, even though the state is just a fraction short of reaching her 70% vaccination goal. As of late Tuesday, the official tally is 69.4%.
Brown's social distancing requirements and capacity limits are now gone, meaning restaurants, theaters and entertainment venues can return to full indoor capacities and normal closing times. Brown's mask mandates also went away, although there are exceptions for federal rules — masks will still be required at airports, public transportation and health care settings.
"This is an important day for Multnomah County," said Chair Deborah Kafoury. "It's a day to remember the 615 people our county lost to COVID-19 and to grieve with their families. It's a day to thank our health care, grocery and other essential workers who kept us all going. And it's a day to celebrate the people who have continued to work, teach, pray and connect us, whether online or in masks."
Multnomah County will also require all employees to continue wearing masks and will require anyone entering a county building wear a mask, too.
Oregon businesses also retain the right to require customers to wear masks or vaccination cards if they so please, so check with them before you go.
Yet, even as vaccinations continue to slow the overall spread of COVID-19, health officials caution that COVID-19 will continue to pose a risk to people who have not yet been fully vaccinated or cannot get vaccinated as the virus morphs into more contagious and thus more deadly forms. More than 364,00 people in Multnomah County are not fully vaccinated and fewer than 50,000 of those have received the first shot.
"We all have this desire to move on, but COVID is not going away," said Multnomah County Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey. "There are so many people who are still at risk, and newer, more serious versions of the virus are on the horizon. As a community we still have work to do, to protect our friends, our family, our coworkers and the people who take care of us as frontline workers."
Multnomah County Public Health recommends that anyone who has not yet received a full series of the COVID-19 vaccine do so as soon as possible.
Public Health also recommends that anyone who is not fully vaccinated (two weeks following the full series of vaccines) should continue to wear a mask whenever they are indoors around other people who are not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown. Anyone who is immunocompromised should get specific advice from their health care provider.
"COVID hospitalizations and deaths are now almost completely avoidable through vaccines that are safe and effective. Thank you to everyone who has been vaccinated and followed precautions to tame this virus. I strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated," said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County's health officer.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune and contributed to this story.
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