After a brief stint serving up to 100 people indoors, Portland’s restaurants will need to reduce restaurant capacity once again starting April 9. Multnomah and Clackamas counties will re-enter the state’s “high risk” category for COVID-19 safety requirements, alongside four other counties. For at least two weeks, the high risk counties’ restaurants can’t serve more than 50 people indoors or at 25 percent capacity, whichever is smaller; the state will reassign county risk levels on April 20, to go into effect April 23.
In early March, Multnomah County’s case counts dropped low enough that Gov. Kate Brown allowed the county to enter the “moderate risk” category. That category allowed restaurants to serve more people both indoors and outdoors, and serve larger groups of people outside (eight people per table, as opposed to six). However, since then, the state’s case counts have been rising: Multnomah County reported 84 new COVID-19 cases on April 4, and the county has been having more triple-digit days of new cases since late March.
Deschutes, Klamath, Linn, and Tillamook are all entering the high-risk category on April 9, as well. That will generally split the state between high and lower risk categories: From April 9 to April 22, there will be 14 high-risk counties, six at moderate risk, and 16 in the lower risk category.
As cases rise, the county is attempting to vaccinate as many people as possible to curb the spread: Gov. Brown announced that all Oregonians over 16 years old will be eligible for the vaccine on April 19, yet another acceleration of the state’s vaccination timeline. Restaurant and grocery workers became eligible for the vaccine April 5, as well as other vulnerable populations.
“We are at a critical moment in this pandemic as we face more contagious variants of COVID-19 taking hold in our communities,” Brown said in a press release. “Now more than ever it’s imperative that we all continue wearing masks, maintain physical distance, stay home when sick, and get the vaccine when it’s available to you.”
• New county risk levels [Official]• New COVID-19 cases in Oregon [OHA]• Multnomah, Clackamas returning to ‘High Risk’ category [KOIN]• All Oregonians over 16 will be eligible for COVID vaccine April 19 [O]