March 23, 2020
Charles Boyle, 503-931-7773
Governor Kate Brown Tightens Social Distancing Measures, Tells Oregonians to “Stay Home, Save Lives”
(Portland, OR)—Governor Kate Brown today issued Executive Order 20-12, directing everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible and adding to the list of businesses that will be temporarily closed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. The order is effective immediately, and remains in effect until ended by the Governor.
“We are learning more about this virus and how people react to it every day. Not just from a medical standpoint, but from a social and behavioral standpoint.
“I started by asking Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing. Then I urged the public to follow these recommendations. Instead, 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.
“Today, I am issuing a new executive order further requiring social distancing measures because we know this is the most effective way to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus. I hope everyone in Oregon abides by its core message: stay home unless absolutely necessary.
“Staying home both keeps you safe from infection, and ensures you do not unknowingly infect others.
“We’ve already put a number of measures forward specifically aimed at increasing hospital capacity, such as cutting down on non-emergency care so we conserve masks, gloves, and gowns to save the lives of the health care workers who are working so hard to save others. All of these things add up, and by slowing the infection rate, we preserve hospital beds so that there will be one available if and when you need it.
“None of us have ever been through this before, and that means there is no way to know exactly what lies ahead. We don’t know yet when this outbreak will end, or what changes this will bring for our state and for our country. But I want to make sure that we’ve done all we can to end it as quickly as possible.”
About the order:
- All non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals are prohibited immediately, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained. Gatherings of members of the same residential household are permitted.
- It closes and prohibits shopping at specific categories of retail businesses, for which close personal contact is difficult to avoid, such as arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, theaters, and yoga studios.
- It requires businesses not closed by the order to implement social distancing policies in order to remain open, and requires workplaces to implement teleworking and work-at-home options when possible.
- It directs Oregonians to stay home whenever possible, while permitting activities outside the home when social distance is maintained.
- It closes playgrounds, sports courts, and skate parks, among other types of outdoor recreation facilities. Those that remain open are required to strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- It outlines new guidelines for child care facilities, setting limits and rules on amounts of children allowed in care, and outlining that child care groups may not change participants.
- Failure to comply with the order will be considered an immediate danger to public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor.
Following this order will save lives, while still allowing businesses to function if they can protect employees and customers through social distancing. While many businesses and organizations that are heavily dependent on foot traffic and in-person interactions have already closed or will close under the expanded order, other businesses that make robust plans to meet social distancing requirements—and enforce those requirements—may remain in operation, preserving jobs while ensuring health.
This distinction from closing all businesses except for those categorized as essential as mandated in other states, aims to minimize unintended consequences and add clarity for businesses who can adjust their business models to accommodate vital social distancing measures.
“This order is designed to flatten the curve over the coming weeks, preserving scarce hospital space and equipment. It will also ensure that any place of business that remains operational does its part to enforce social distancing rules,” said Governor Brown. “It is designed to be more sustainable over time, to allow Oregonians to keep their jobs when their work does not add to the growth of COVID-19 in Oregon.”
Retail businesses closed by Executive Order 20-12 include:
- Shopping: Outdoor and indoor malls and retail complexes, although individual types of businesses not subject to the measures may stay open.
- Fitness: Gyms, sports and fitness centers, health clubs, and exercise studios
- Grooming: Barbershops, beauty and nail salons, and non-medical wellness spas
- Entertainment: Theaters, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys, and pool halls
Other retail businesses will not be able to continue to operate unless they can implement strict social distancing measures and designate an employee or officer charged with ensuring compliance. Retail businesses able to adapt to take-out style shopping experiences can also remain open. If businesses can have employees work from home, then they must do so. Many of the businesses outlined in the order have voluntarily closed their doors already, to do their part to protect Oregon’s communities. In addition, non-retail businesses like manufacturers and the construction industry must ensure that their employees are maintaining social distancing measures.
Please read the full details on all businesses listed in the executive order here.
In addition to businesses, Executive Order 20-12 also orders state executive branch offices and buildings to close to the public and provide public services by phone to the extent possible. When public services require in-person interactions, the order requires social distancing measures to be implemented and enforced. State agencies must also facilitate telework and work-at-home for state employees whenever possible. While the order does not apply to local, federal, or tribal governments, those governments are strongly encouraged to follow these directives.
The order also directs state agencies to close parks and other outdoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained––expanding on actions already taken by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
All coronavirus executive orders will be posted on the Oregon Coronavirus Information and Resources Page after they have been issued and signed.