(Salem, OR) — With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at an all-time high for the pandemic, Governor Kate Brown today urged Oregonians to remember that the entire state is under a Two-Week Freeze, and to keep their Thanksgiving gatherings small and use precautions to protect themselves and loved ones from the spread of COVID-19. With infection rates surging in Oregon, the Governor also cautioned that strict health and safety measures will likely need to remain in place for at least 21 counties found to be at extreme risk for COVID-19 spread following the Two-Week Freeze, which ends on December 2.
“It’s been a long year — and one that has been exceptionally challenging for Oregonians,” said Governor Brown. “Not only have we been dealing with this pandemic, we also suffered through a heartbreaking and historic wildfire season. So many families have lost so much this year. Unfortunately, now, more than ever, is the time we must double down on our efforts to stop COVID from spreading.
“When people don’t respect how serious this virus is, and when they act against the recommendations of doctors and public health experts, not only are they putting themselves at risk, they’re putting all of us at risk. Making smart choices — to wear a mask, to limit your social gatherings, to stay home when sick — will get us out of this horrible situation faster, and bring us closer to normal life, closer to reopening our businesses and keeping them open, and closer to getting our kids back in the classroom.”
As the pandemic continues into the winter months, when cases are expected to continue to rise, the Governor announced a new health and safety framework, with four different risk levels for counties based on their level of COVID-19 spread, to take effect after the Two-Week Freeze ends on December 2. At each risk level — Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk — health and safety measures and guidance for businesses and individuals will apply. The framework is intended to establish sustainable protection measures for Oregonians in counties with rapid spread of COVID-19, while balancing the economic needs of families and businesses in the absence of a federal aid package.
Click here for a list of counties in each risk level using data available as of November 23.
On Monday, November 30, the Oregon Health Authority will reexamine county data to determine which counties qualify for each risk level on December 3, following the end of the 2-Week Freeze. In each subsequent two-week period, the Oregon Health Authority will examine and publish county data weekly, but county risk levels will not change until the end of the second week. In the first week, counties will be given Warning Week data to prepare for potential risk level changes. In the second week, county risk levels will be updated based on that week’s data.
In counties with extreme risk, the following activities will be allowed, with health and safety protocols in place:
- Social and at-home gatherings with people from outside your household will be limited to a maximum of six people, with a recommended limit of two households.
- Restaurants, bars, and other eating and drinking establishments will be limited to a maximum of 50 people for outdoor dining only, with only six people per table. Take-out is strongly encouraged.
- Indoor recreation, fitness, and entertainment establishments, including gyms, will remain closed, however, outdoor recreation, fitness, and entertainment activities, including outdoor gym activities, will be allowed, with a maximum limit of 50 people outdoors.
- Retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and indoor and outdoor shopping centers and malls will be limited to a maximum of 50% of capacity, with curbside pick-up encouraged.
- Faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries, and cemeteries will be limited to a maximum of 25% of capacity or 100 people indoors (whichever is smaller), or 150 people outdoors.
- Office workplaces will be required to utilize remote work to the maximum extent possible, with public-facing offices closed to the public.
- Personal services businesses will be allowed to continue to operate with health and safety measures in place.
- Long-term care facilities can allow limited outdoor visitation, following established health and safety protocols.
Oregon counties that are successful in reducing their COVID-19 risk levels in the coming weeks and months will be able to incrementally move to lower risk levels.
It’s important to note that there is no Zero Risk category. Until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, health and safety precautions will remain in place so that schools, businesses, and communities can reopen, and stay open. At every risk level, to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, Oregonians must continue to wear face coverings, watch their physical distance, wash hands, stay home when sick, and keep social get-togethers and gatherings small.
More information will be posted to coronavirus.oregon.gov prior to December 3.
School metrics for K-12 schools and health and safety guidance for child care remain unchanged under this framework.
A copy of the Governor’s remarks from today’s press conference is available here.