SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown on Monday directed most Oregonians to stay home except for getting groceries, going to work or handling important activities that cannot wait.
Brown said she was acting because Oregonians had not followed her urging to stay home and practice social distancing.
“Thousands crowded the beaches of our coastal communities, our trails, our parks and our city streets, potentially spreading COVID-19 and endangering the lives of others across the state. Now, I’m ordering it. To save lives and protect our community,” she said in a statement accompanying her order.
Key provisions of her order include:
• Oregonians should stay home whenever possible.
• Violating the order could be a Class C misdemeanor.
• Except for members of the same residential household, all non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals are prohibited immediately, regardless of size, unless people can stay at least six feet apart.
• Retail businesses are closed, effective Tuesday, if it is difficult to avoid close personal contact. Examples include arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, theaters and yoga studios.
• Businesses allowed to remain open must implement social-distancing policies “consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority. With the exception of those businesses, shopping malls must close, whether indoor or outdoor.
• Playgrounds, sports courts, skate parks and some other outdoor recreation facilities are closed. Facilities allowed to remain open, apparently including golf courses, must strictly follow social distancing guidelines.
• Child care facilities are restricted to “stable groups of 10 or fewer children,” meaning that the children must be in the same group each day.
• Public and private campgrounds are closed, although veterans and camp hosts can remain in state parks. RV parks and other housing may remain open.
• State agencies generally are closed to the public, except by appointment in some circumstances, and state employees should work remotely if possible. Brown urged local, tribal and federal offices to do the same.
“Staying home both keeps you safe from infection and ensures you do not unknowingly infect others,” Brown said. “None of us have ever been through this before, and that means there is no way to know exactly what lies ahead.”
Through much of the weekend, the governor had been resisting issuing a statewide stay-home, and her announcement was not accompanied by a press conference to answer questions. The city of Portland, backed by the leaders of the metro-area counties, was prepared to issue its own stay-home order.
“It is important we do things on a statewide level so we not move the problem around to different places,” said Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, during a legislative committee meeting after the order was issued.
The coronavirus response committee continued to pore through proposals to help Oregon businesses and residents respond to the economic and health aspects of the pandemic. “What are the five most important things we must do as a Legislature to respond to this coronavirus?” said committee co-chair Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene.
He said it’s unknown how much the state can spend. Key legislators were scheduled to discuss that privately Monday afternoon.
Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, said the number of special legislative sessions needed this year to deal with coronavirus could eclipse the five special sessions in 2002. Those sessions lasted from four to 19 days.
Holvey said most actions taken in the expected special legislative session would be temporary measures, not permanent state policy.
Helping the homeless was a top priority for committee members. They also discussed such issues unemployment benefits and potential delay of the new corporate activity tax.
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, asked about economic assistance for independent contractors, such as hairdressers, who are not eligible for unemployment. It is unclear whether such businesses will be eligible for federal assistance.
“They are the smallest of the small business owners,” Holvey said. “That’s something we’ve got to figure out.”
Businesspeople and Republican legislators have proposed that agencies “pause all non-essential rulemaking and workgroups not related to the COVID-19 response.” Holvey said the governor may need changes in state law to have that flexibility.
Rep. Duane Stark, R-Grants Pass, said regulations on workers’ maximum hours and on predictive scheduling are among those that should be eased as employers deal with coronavirus. Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, said county offices should be allowed to open fewer hours than required by state laws.
“I want to make sure we take care of our employers and our employees,” said Sen. Denyc Boles, R-Salem, adding that she wanted to underscore the uncertainty that lies ahead.