Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday that Douglas County will be allowed to move into a Phase 2 reopening Friday.
The county’s entry into Phase 2 means larger groups can gather, especially at faith-based events like church services. As many as 50 people can gather socially indoors and 100 outdoors, while churchgoers at some of the larger churches can gather in groups of 250 as long as there is 35 square feet of space for each person.
Several new options have opened up for entertainment. Movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and swimming pools can reopen and recreational sports can be held.
Restaurants and bars will now be able to remain open until midnight, where they had to close by 10 p.m. before.
More people can return to working in offices, though social distancing is still required and working from home recommended where possible.
Brown said in her letter to the county that moving into Phase 2 comes with increased risk.
“With every restriction lifted we know transmission of the virus has the potential to increase,” she wrote. “You should be proud of the work done thus far by your local public health department to test, track, and isolate new cases of COVID-19. That work has made it possible for your county to move to the next phase.”
She also wrote that Phase 2 “is the last full phase until there is a widely available treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19.”
Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice said the first phase of reopening has gone very well, with community support and having the right people in the right places to guide the county through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even though we are moving forward, this will not be a quick or easy road for our local businesses or residents,” Boice said in a written statement. “We will all need to work together to help our neighbors, friends, families and our livelihoods rebound from this crisis. Please continue to support your local communities by making purchases, dining out, staying home if you are sick and signing up to volunteer when and where you can.”
The Phase 2 announcement followed an announcement that one new COVID-19 case has been reported, bringing the total to 29. Of those, 25 have recovered and two are now hospitalized.
Douglas County Public Health Official Bob Dannenhoffer said he anticipates there will be more cases because the threat of the virus is not gone. However, he said the county has increased its ability to track cases and support people who quarantine.
“All indicators are showing we have a low burden of COVID disease here locally. But, we still encourage people to socially distance, stay home if you’re sick and wear masks in public to reduce the spread if you’re asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic,” he said.
In all, 25 counties received approval Thursday to enter Phase 2 either Friday or Saturday and a 26th, Tillamook, will join them Monday.
Those not moving forward yet include Umatilla, Jefferson and Deschutes counties, all still listed as under review late Thursday afternoon.
Those that had not yet submitted Phase 2 applications were Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion, Polk and Washington counties, as well as Multnomah County, which had not yet entered Phase 1.