Governor Kate Brown approved Klamath County for phase two of reopening to begin Friday in a Thursday afternoon letter.
Twenty-five other counties were approved on Thursday to enter phase two between Friday and Monday. The 14 counties that are approved for Friday phase two include Klamath, Lake and Jackson Counties. Eleven counties are approved to reopen under phase two on Saturday and Tillamook County will enter phase two on Monday.
In Brown’s letter to Klamath County, she said, “I want to be clear that moving to Phase 2 comes with increased risk. With every restriction lifted we know transmission of the virus has the potential to increase. You should be proud of the work done thus far by your local public health department to test, track, and isolate new cases of COVID-19. That work has made it possible for your county to move to the next phase.”
Kelley Minty Morris, Chair of the Klamath County Board of Commissioners, said of the county’s approval, “We felt strongly we were ready to continue, safely, reopening, and are relieved the Governor’s office agreed. I appreciate the steadfastness of our business community, and community in general, during this challenge. I’m looking forward to getting back into some of our venues!”
In phase two, gathering sizes were raised to 250 people for several types of venues, including churches, gyms and restaurants.
Phase two also allows for the reopening of venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys, sports facilities and pools with social distancing. Restaurants and bars may also stay open until midnight instead of the 10 p.m. closing time in phase one.
According to a news release from Brown’s office, the dates counties may enter phase two is according to the date requested in their letters requesting state approval to do so.
Brown’s letter states, “Phase 2 is the last full phase until there is a widely available treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19. My office and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will be evaluating current guidance on an ongoing basis, and we are open to your continued feedback. Your county will need to continue close monitoring of OHA’s six public health indicators to manage any increase in new cases. Maintaining a culturally responsive and robust contact tracing system, as well as an effective testing and isolation strategy, will be key to containing any potential spread of the virus.”
While Brown said Wednesday that 31 Oregon counties were eligible to apply for phase two reopening, a total of 26 requests were approved Thursday. Deschutes, Jefferson and Umatilla counties’ requests to enter phase two are still under review by the Oregon Health Authority.
According to the state news release, Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion, Polk and Washington Counties have not applied for phase two. Multnomah County, home to Portland, hasn’t yet applied for phase one of reopening.