SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday approved 26 counties to implement Oregon’s phase 2 reopening plan from coronavirus restrictions, which allows for pools to open, loosens restaurant restrictions and expands gathering sizes.
These counties, which include Douglas, Jackson, Lane and Linn, will begin phase 2 between Friday and Monday.
“Any reopening comes with risk. That’s just a fact of life right now,” Brown said at a Wednesday news conference. “We need to reduce the risk that comes with reopening. So, fellow Oregonians, you have further opportunity to show that you are looking out for your friends, family and neighbors.”
Counties approved to begin phase 2 Friday are: Benton, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Linn, Morrow, Union, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler.
Counties approved to begin phase 2 Saturday are: Baker, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Gilliam, Harney, Josephine, Malheur, Sherman and Yamhill.
Tillamook County will begin phase 2 Monday.
The governor’s office said three counties — Deschutes, Jefferson and Umatilla – have applied and are under further review.
Six other counties — Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion, Polk and Washington – have not yet applied for phase 2.
Oregon’s largest county, Multnomah, remains in the baseline phase. However, county officials said they plan to submit an application for phase 1 Friday.
In order to enter phase 2, counties must meet Oregon’s safety and preparedness prerequisites for reopening and have been in the initial phase for at least 21 days.
Under the new phase, gatherings will be increased from 25 people to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Recreational non-contact sports, such as pickleball and tennis, will begin again. In addition, collegiate athletes will return to training by mid-June.
Restaurants, which are currently required to close at 10 p.m., will be allowed to stay open until 12 a.m.
Following updated guidance, zoos, museums and outdoor gardens, will be allowed to open statewide. The governor is also shifting from requiring people to work remotely to “strongly recommending” it.
In Oregon, at least 157 people have died from coronavirus and more than 4,300 in the state have tested positive for the disease.
For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Sara Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues