Today, Governor Kate Brown released a phased plan for reopening Oregon, which allows individual counties to begin reopening if they can meet certain prerequisites (e.g., declining cases of COVID-19, established testing regimen, contact tracing system, etc.). Some rural counties that have no or very few cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) can enter Phase 1 of the reopening plan as early as May 15, 2020, since they will likely meet the prerequisites, but more populated counties that have a higher number of cases won’t be able to enter Phase 1 until they meet the prerequisites. County governments will be individually responsible for submitting applications to enter Phase 1 to the Governor’s Office beginning on May 8, 2020.
Once a county enters Phase 1, certain types of businesses in that county – including retail establishments, restaurants, bars, salons, barber shops, massage parlors, and gyms – will be allowed to reopen under various restrictions. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has issued general Phase One guidance that all employers must follow, as well as specific guidance for certain industries, such as retail, restaurants, and personal services providers (such as salons, barbershops, and massage parlors). OHA may later release guidance for other specific industries, such as gyms.
Not all counties will enter Phase 1 at the same time. Counties that enter Phase 1 will remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days before moving to Phase 2, to allow OHA to assess any potential uptick in COVID-19 cases. Phase 2 will expand the reopening to include some office work and hospital visitations. Phase 3 will include large gatherings, such as concerts, festivals, and sporting events, but according to the Governor’s plan, that won’t happen until there’s either reliable treatment or prevention for COVID-19, the date for which is “unknown at this time.” Per the governor’s plan, “all large gatherings should be cancelled or significantly modified through at least September,” with further guidance on events in late fall to come this summer.
Although the Governor’s phased plan is county-by-county, she has also already made some statewide changes. Non-urgent medical procedures have already been allowed to resume on May 1 and some state parks and recreation areas were allowed to begin opening to the public on May 5. The governor’s press release announcing her reopening plan said that statewide guidelines would be issued during the week of May 11 for transit, child care, summer school, summer camps, and youth programs.
Tips For Employers: If you’ve continued to operate throughout the pandemic, keep doing what you’re doing: maintaining social distancing and other safety protocols, following guidance from Oregon OSHA, the OHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other authorities). You’re probably already doing many of the things in OHA’s general Phase One guidance, but all employers should review it anyway. If you’re in an industry subject to specific guidance from the OHA (restaurants, retail, and personal care), review OHA’s industry-specific guidance. Continue to monitor the Governor’s COVID-19 webpage, and Vigilant’s newsletters and alerts, for updates. To discuss how the Governor’s plan impacts your business, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.