Pool tables at Banks Billiards. Photo: Chas Hundley
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This article was originally published by the Oregonian/OregonLive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Sunday outlined new measures she is discussing with state and local officials to decrease transmission rates of the coronavirus as 39 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the state.
During a Sunday night call with reporters, Brown said she was considering a curfew for restaurants and bars, limiting their occupancy or potentially temporarily shutting them down altogether, with some exceptions for take-out and small restaurants where diners can be distant from each other. She said she would announce her decision Monday.
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She said she had concerns about the impact a curfew or shutdown could have on the restaurant industry and its workers.
“I’m honestly looking for an Oregon way to do this,” she said. “Any decision has very real impact on Oregon’s hospitality and small businesses. We are trying to ensure they can survive.”
Earlier on Sunday, owner Kurt Huffman of ChefStable, the restaurant group behind some of Portland’s best-known restaurants, announced all 20 bars and restaurants will be closed for at least four weeks.
Huffman said the group has yet to see a dramatic dip in business. But he and his individual partners at restaurants — which include Ox, St. Jack, XLB, Grassa, Lardo, the Icelandic hostel KEX and its attached restaurant Dottir and more — are concerned about the role busy eateries are playing in the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
A statewide ban on events of more than 250 people has been in effect since Wednesday.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends there be no events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. Brown said she expected more guidance from the CDC on restaurants and bars on Monday.
Other states are closing bars, restaurants and other gathering spaces.
Brown also said she will give Senate President Peter Courtney, House Speaker Tina Kotek and the House and Senate Republican leaders an outline of an economic response plan on Monday to get their reaction. She has already spoken with public health officials.
She also said the state had begun to receive shipments of protective equipment for hospital workers from the federal government. The state received 15% of its allotted supply on Friday and Sunday, she said.
Nik Blosser, Brown’s chief of staff, told reporters that testing for the COVID-19 virus is increasing as private testing labs come online.
About 110 results were returned Sunday, he said.
Three new presumptive positive cases of coronavirus, spread among Yamhill, Deschutes and Linn counties, were identified Sunday, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
On March 8, Brown announced she was declaring a state of emergency to bring additional resources to the state’s response.
On Thursday, she ordered all state’s public schools to cancel classes through March 31 in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.