Gov. Kate Brown, under fire for the ambiguous guidelines she issued Friday on social distancing, issued a more definitive order Monday morning that establishes legally enforceable restrictions on public activity.
The aim is to sharply reduce the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected at least 161 Oregonians and killed five. Brown’s order follows shelter-in-place edicts in many other states and localities, including California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey.
As in the other states, though, Oregon’s order includes many exceptions for businesses and other services that Brown deems essential.
Construction and manufacturing, for example, may continue so long as they “ensure that their employees are maintaining social distancing measures.” Daycares can continue to operate, with some restrictions. And grocery stores may remain open.
Businesses that must close include shopping malls, gyms, barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, spas, theaters and amusement parks.
Additionally, Brown directed playgrounds, basketball courts, skate parks and other outdoor recreation facilities to close.
Those who defy the order can be charged with endangering public health, a class C misdemeanor. People found to have violated her order could be jailed for up to 30 days or fined $1,250.
The governor faced increasing pressure to act over the weekend as travelers swarmed the Oregon coast in defiance of her Friday afternoon directive that travelers stay home. The health care community urged more stringent action, warning that if people continued to circulate the virus would, too. And local mayors, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, said they would act in their own jurisdictions if the governor did not.
“I started by asking Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing. Then I urged the public to follow these recommendations,” Brown said in Monday’s announcement.
“Instead, thousands crowded the beaches of our coastal communities, our trails, our parks, and our city streets, potentially spreading COVID-19 and endangering the lives of others across the state. Now, I’m ordering” Oregonians to stay home, she wrote. “To save lives and protect our community.”
While Monday’s order gave some clarity to what’s permissible and what’s not, Brown’s announcement didn’t directly address travel to vacation homes and rentals. The order also didn’t indicate whether the governor plans to institute patrols, a complaint line or take steps to enforce the measure.
The governor’s office canceled a Monday morning announcement where she was scheduled to take questions about her announcement and didn’t immediately respond to inquiries about details.