Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday that counties will be notified Thursday whether they are approved to move into a Phase 2 reopening on Friday.
According to the governor, 31 counties are eligible to apply for entry into Phase 2.
As of Thursday morning, Douglas County was one of 29 of the state’s 36 counties whose Phase 2 applications were under review, according to the Oregon Health Authority website. Those not listed were Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion, Polk and Washington counties, as well as Multnomah County, which has not yet entered Phase 1.
Brown, joined by State Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger and Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen, held a news conference Wednesday and shared a preliminary version of what some details of Phase 2 will look like, though details were still being finalized.
The governor said decisions will continue to be made based on science and data. She added that it’s clear state residents’ actions have resulted in flattening the curve of the pandemic’s spread.
“We are all in this together. Your actions really do matter,” Brown said. “So I want to encourage you to be smart, be kind and continue to protect your families, your friends and your neighbors.”
A Phase 2 easing of restrictions will impact an array of businesses and social gatherings. Here’s what that will look like:
Restaurants and bars will have their curfews extended and can stay open until midnight.
Gathering sizes will be increased to 50 people indoors, and 100 people outdoors. Some types of civic and faith-based gatherings — including those at churches — can be up to 250 people so long as 35 square feet of space can be assured to each participant.
Several types of facilities that had been closed will now be allowed to reopen. These include pools, movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades.
Office work can resume with social distancing, though stay at home work is still encouraged.
Sports teams can begin training in mid-June.
The governor also reiterated her commitment to getting students, including college students, back into the classroom in September.
As for Phase 3, don’t expect it any time soon. State officials are hoping for a vaccine before moving beyond Phase 2. Sidelinger said it will be several months — through the summer for sure and maybe into the fall — before Phase 3 becomes an option.
Allen said the state’s overall percentage of positive tests has gone down, as have hospital admissions, indicating both that testing is increasing and that the pandemic is on the decline. However, he cautioned that reopening is not without risks and said Oregonians should exercise caution to prevent a surge in cases.
He also said the pandemic has exposed inequities in health care access for people of color. He apologized for that personally, and said he and OHA will do better.
Sidelinger said OHA will evaluate whether counties are able to trace most contacts of anyone who tests positive quickly, and check that there is no increase in the percentage of positive tests. But he also said counties’ mitigation plans would be considered.
And he said state officials would continue to monitor counties. If they slip on the criteria, that doesn’t mean they’ll immediately be returned to Phase 1.