As many counties in Oregon are entering into Phase 1, many questions still loom. Should I still wear my face mask? Can I go hiking on my favorite trail? What’s all this “Phase 1” talk?

Update, May 21: Since this article has been published, Gov. Kate Brown announced the approval for 33 of Oregon’s 36 counties to enter into Phase 1 of her reopening plan. Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties have yet to submit the applications required to be considered for reopening. This article has been updated to reflect the counties that have moved into Phase 1, as well as information regarding retail stores that are allowed to reopen.

We will update this article again when it is announced which counties will move into Phase 2.

Phase 1 of Gov. Kate Brown's three-phase plan to reopen Oregon, began Friday, May 15. As 33 of the state's counties enter Phase 1, many questions still loom. Should I still wear my face mask? Can I go hiking on my favorite trail? What’s all this “Phase 1” talk?

Here’s what we know:

Yes, You Should Still Wear Your Face Masks 

We promise no one is making fun of you, and you don’t look half bad. According to the state’s framework, you should continue to wear cloth, paper, or disposable face coverings when out in public, as well practice good hand hygiene and avoid touching your face.

Yes, You Can Go Outside...Just Not Too Far From Home

The state, since May 6, has slowly begun reopening its outdoor recreation areas, including select state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and all ski resorts, for daytime use, though parks officials are encouraging residents to stick to the areas that are closest to their homes (and in some cases, flatly warning hordes of Portlanders to stay away, as is the case for famed rock climbing mecca Smith Rock State Park, which is set to reopen on May 15.)  Campgrounds in Oregon state parks, however, have remained closed with no anticipated reopen date from officials. 

For a full list of what’s open, closed, or has reduced services, here’s an Oregon State Parks map.

Currently Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties Must Remain Under Gov. Brown’s Stay Home Executive Order

Gov. Brown’s Stay Home Executive Order, signed March 23, is still in effect for the five aforementioned counties. Marion and Polk Counties were approved to enter Phase 1 on May 20. 

In order to enter Phase 1 of reopening, Oregon counties must:

  • See a decline in COVID-19 prevalence for at least 14 days^
  • Must conduct at least 30 tests per 10,000 people per week, with accessibility for underserved communities*
  • Have the ability to conduct contact tracing ^
  • Must have isolation/quarantine facilities^
  • Finalize statewide sector guidelines+
  • Have sufficient healthcare capacity *
  • Have sufficient personal protective equipment supply*

Once a county meets all seven prerequisites, the county may submit a request to the governor’s office for review.

^ prerequisite is conducted by the county; * prerequisite is conducted by the health region; + prerequisite is conducted at a statewide level

33 Oregon Counties Are in Phase 1

So far, 33 counties have entered into Phase 1 of the governor’s three-phase plan.

Here are the counties currently in Phase 1:

  • Baker County
  • Benton County
  • Clatsop County
  • Coos County
  • Crook County
  • Curry County
  • Deschutes County
  • Douglas County
  • Gilliam County
  • Grant County
  • Harney County
  • Hood River County
  • Jackson County
  • Jefferson County
  • Josephine County
  • Klamath County
  • Lake County
  • Lane County
  • Lincoln County
  • Linn County
  • Malheur County
  • Marion County
  • Morrow County
  • Polk County
  • Sherman County
  • Tillamook County
  • Umatilla County
  • Union County
  • Wallowa County
  • Wasco County
  • Wheeler County 
  • Yamhill County

What About the Metro/Tri-County Area? 

Given the dense population size and the number of COVID-19 cases (currently more than 1,400 in the tri-county), the Portland Metro-area may see a much longer road to Phase 1 reopening.

Dr. Jennifer Vines, lead Health Officer for the Portland-Metro region, says we're “at minimum three weeks” before Multnomah County is even ready to apply. Currently, Multnomah County is advertising for contact tracers, a crucial component to entering Phase One.

Washington County is hoping to reopen in early- to mid-June, and Clackamas County announced it is working on drafting a plan for reopening.

But don’t worry—we’ll get there.

Phase 1 for Qualifying Counties Began on May 15

So what exactly does "Phase 1" mean?

  • Restaurants and bars may open for sit-down service, but only with appropriate physical distancing measures in place, and face masks are to be worn by employees.
  • Personal services including salons, barber shops, and gyms may open with limits on the number of occupants. Salons must follow appointment only procedures and must screen customers at the door with temperature checks, logging every customer to allow for contract tracing by health departments if needed.
  • Retail businesses and shops can open using proper physical distancing etiquette laid out by the Oregon Health Authority.
  • Social gatherings can increase to 25 with physical distancing measures in place.

As of May 15, standalone furniture stores, art galleries, jewelry shops, and boutiques across Oregon will be allowed to reopen if they can adhere to physical distancing guidelines.

Counties Must Remain in Phase 1 for at Least 21 Days Before Moving to Phase 2

While in Phase 1, OHA can call for a re-evaluation if a county violates these three metrics:

  • Can’t meet contact tracing requirements
  • There is an increased prevalence of COVID-19
  • There is evidence of increasing burden of severe COVID-19 hospital admissions

Phase 2 and Phase 3

These phases include further expansion of gathering sizes to include workplaces such as offices, visits to care facilities, and more. (But the governor has signaled that larger gatherings such as concerts, festivals, sporting events, and more may not return until at least September or a vaccine has been proven effective for treating the virus.)

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