Kate Brown, Oregon Governor, speaks in Portland, Ore on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.
Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal | AP
Oregon governor Kate Brown on Friday announced a "two-week freeze" on most activity and non-essential business across the state to curb what she called the "alarming spike" in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
The new restrictions, which begin Wednesday and run through December 2nd, restrict restaurants to take-away service only. limits retailers, grocery stores, and pharmacies to 75% capacity; includes gyms, fitness centers, and indoor and outdoor event centers; limits participation in places of worship and requires other companies to work remotely as much as possible, Brown said at a news conference.
"A week ago, I announced a two-week hiatus from social activities to help slow the spread of Covid-19 in several of our counties across the state," Brown said. "Unfortunately, we have seen an alarming increase and Covid-19 hospital stays in both cases since then."
The new restrictions also limit social gatherings to two households or a maximum of six people, Brown added. She said "some Covid-19 hotspot areas" will stay in frost for more than two weeks and people should be prepared for it.
Brown also urged all residents to wear a mask all the time indoors and outdoors, except when eating and drinking.
"The evidence is very, very clear that masks save lives," she said.
The new restrictions apply in addition to the coronavirus travel advisory that the governors of California, Oregon and Washington jointly issued on Friday. This notice is urging people arriving in their states to self-quarantine for 14 days. It also urges residents to avoid all unnecessary trips out of the state.
In the spring, the Covid-19 outbreak resulted in widespread restrictions and orders to stay at home. As the virus re-emerges this fall, state and city officials have taken more targeted measures to stem the rise in cases and hospital stays. Chicago announced a home consultation for all residents Thursday. New York, New Jersey, and several other states have introduced curfew for restaurants and bars.
Oregon's new restrictions, however, are among the most comprehensive measures taken this fall to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
"If all of this sounds familiar to us, what I ordered in March, it's because it is," she said. "The cycle of this virus is such that we are now seeing a case rate of over 1,000 a day, and that means our hospitals are heading for some very dark days."
However, the new restrictions differ in significant ways from March's, Brown said. Personal service providers like physical therapists, chiropractors and medical spas will remain open under the current restrictions, she said. The state's parks and playgrounds will also remain open for outdoor recreation, she added.
Schools "that meet the criteria" and childcare will also remain open, she said.
"I know it's hard and I know everyone is tired, but we're trying to stop this wild virus from spreading faster and further and to save lives," she said. "We've done it before. We can do it again."
Dr. Oregon state epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger said Covid-19 hospital admissions rose 50% over the past week and 100% over the past month. He added that the Portland area was among the hardest hit. He said that as of 3:30 a.m. local time on Thursday, only 15 ICU beds were available in the subway area.
"Covid-19 is spreading at an escalating and alarming rate," he said. "Today the situation in Oregon hospitals is looking increasingly dire."