Oregon Governor Kate Brown approved Klamath County’s reopening plan on Wednesday, which allows for the county to enter phase one of reopening on Friday.
Phase one still limits gatherings to 25 people or fewer and encourages people to continue to wear masks in public. It allows for the reopening of retail, childcare, outdoor recreation, restaurants, personal care like salons and gyms, and transit with social distancing measures in place and sanitation practices.
“We know our businesses are ready to hit the ground running. They’ve been patient, and we applaud them. Now, let’s all get back to work!” said Commissioner Donnie Boyd in a Klamath County news release.
At restaurants, tables must be spaced six feet apart, employees must wear face masks and on-site food and drinks must end by 10 p.m., according to the governor’s phase one guidelines.
Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said in the news release, “The State had a lot of requirements to ensure, by their standards, that a county was ready to reopen. We knew we would push for reopening at the very earliest opportunity, and I’m proud of our efforts, collectively, to get our community there.”
Thursday morning Brown approved 27 other counties in addition to Klamath County to enter phase one of reopening.
Brown rejected the applications of Marion and Polk counties. The applications of Jefferson, Morrow and Umatilla counties were approved Thursday afternoon. Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties do not have phase one applications under review. Those three counties, home to the Portland metro-area, have some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“The hardships that our businesses have faced in the midst of these shutdowns have been considerable, but Klamath County has endured and we will come back stronger than ever. I know our businesses are ready and I am excited to get out and support them!” said Commissioner Derrick DeGroot in the news release.
In Brown’s letter to Commissioner Morris notifying her that Klamath County may move into phase one on Friday, Brown wrote, “I want to be clear that reopening does not come without risks. With every restriction lifted we know transmission of the virus has the potential to increase. The contact tracing, testing and personal protective equipment requirements that were part of the conditions for opening will be essential to mitigate that transmission increase.”
Counties that continue to meet state metrics, such as a decrease in COVID-19 cases and adequate supplies, may be allowed to enter phase two of reopening after 21 days in phase one. The state is still figuring out what phase two will look like, but lists on its website that it might allow for limited visitation to nursing homes and gatherings of up to 100 people.