Restaurants in 15 of Oregon’s 36 counties will be required to suspend indoor dining for a week starting Friday because a new wave of COVID-19 cases is threatening to overwhelm the state’s hospital system, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday.
The governor also redesignated two additional counties as “high risk,” requiring them to join the seven jurisdictions currently in that classification. Restaurants in high risk counties are limited to using 25% of their indoor seating capacities, up to a maximum of 50 people.
Outdoor dining will still be permitted within the two groups of counties, but at different capacities. The nine high risk jurisdictions can handle up to 75 outdoor customers, while the 15 areas in the extreme risk areas are limited to 50 customers.
Brown said she is working with state lawmakers to provide $20 million in aid restaurants and other small businesses in the high risk counties. The funds are intended to help the enterprises pay their rents.
“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” said Governor Brown. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher.”
Her decision came as a number of other states and cities are easing their restrictions on the operation of restaurants. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that he is looking to end the requirement that restaurants only sell alcoholic beverages to customers who order food, a move already approved by the state Senate.
New York has also dropped its midnight curfew on restaurant service.