CORONAVIRUS, Government, Oregon

Gov. Brown bans indoor gatherings of 10, mandates face masks outdoors in some cases

Governor Kate Brown during a Monday, July 13 press conference. Screenshot from OHA Youtube stream

OREGON – During a Monday, July 13 morning press conference, Governor Kate Brown outlined Oregon’s situation as it grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, and told reporters and the more than 1,700 people watching a livestream of the conference that Oregon was going the wrong way. 

According to Brown, the state has seen more cases reported in the past week than in the entire month of May.

Beginning Wednesday, July 15, the state is taking two new steps to curb an escalating rate of COVID-19 spread in the state. The first will limit indoor social gatherings, such as book clubs, birthday parties, and graduation celebrations to ten people. Secondly, outdoor areas where social distancing cannot be maintained will be required to wear a mask.

The social gathering restrictions do not yet apply to business and religious settings.

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“We’re here today to sound the alarm,” said Brown as she began the conference.

Brown was joined by Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist, and Pat Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority.

When asked about enforcement of the new measures, Brown said that the state would continue to shift the burden of enforcement of state requirements to businesses, and that there would likely be little to no enforcement of the indoor social gathering rules. 

“Let’s be honest, state enforcement of limits on the size of indoor social get-togethers will be difficult. I’m not going to set up the party police,” said Brown. 

“Either people will adhere to this requirement and become a positive force for stopping COVID-19, or I will be forced to take more restrictive measures. No one wants that.”

Brown stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet when in the company of others not in your immediate household, hand washing, and wearing masks.

Other questions remain unanswered on schools, sporting events, and other activities, but Brown noted that nothing was off the table in terms of restrictions and steps the state might take to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

More school reopening guidance is expected to arrive from the Oregon Department of Education on Tuesday, July 21.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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