June 15, 2020
Restaurants, bars and brewpubs didn’t get much warning before Oregon Governor Kate Brown changed the planned opening of Multnomah County businesses last week. The evening before the planned reopening, the Governor placed all reopening applications on pause for at least seven days because she saw a “concerning” increase in coronavirus infections.
Oregon’s most populous county had anticipated opening last Friday, after submitting its application to move forward into Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan. That would have allowed restaurants and bars to reopen on June 12th, provided they had COVID-19 safety precautions in place. Those businesses have been closed to dine-in customers since March.
Gov. Brown said, “When we began reopening nearly a month ago, I was clear that COVID-19 case counts would rise. We now see that happening in several parts of the state, both urban areas and rural communities. The noticeable increase in COVID-19 infections in Oregon over the past week is cause for concern. This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light.’ It is time to press pause for one week before any further reopening.”
The pause is envisioned to give public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus, and determine if the state needs to adjust its approach to reopening. Multnomah County has experienced an increase in residents admitted to the hospital over the last two weeks. The percent of tests that are positive is going up, in the face of increased testing. More than 40% of the new cases in the last week have not been traced to a source.
“This was not the outcome we anticipated when we submitted our application on June 5,’’ said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “I understand how difficult this is for businesses, employers and families. But the increase in cases and delay in reopening is a reminder that we are very much still in this.”
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser