SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown on Friday announced that Oregon will be stepping up efforts to enforce coronavirus restrictions on businesses beginning with the Fourth of July weekend, in addition to a new county "watch list" for areas seeing a spike in cases.
Brown's office said that eight counties had been added to the COVID-19 watch list: Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wasco.
"The spread of COVID-19 in these counties has risen to alarming levels in recent weeks," Brown's office said. "Analysis by the Oregon Health Authority showed alarmingly high per capita rates of case increases and community spread –– cases where the infections are not attributable to a specific location or event. This community spread is a serious warning sign for health experts."
Counties on the watch list will be monitored in the days ahead while the OHA and local public health officials work on controlling the spread. Brown's office said that these counties could see business closures or a smaller gathering size limit.
“I am asking Oregonians this holiday weekend to take urgent steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings, avoiding large gatherings, and physically distancing,” said Governor Kate Brown. “And state enforcement agencies will be out in force to ensure businesses are in compliance. Those businesses not complying with gathering size limits, face covering requirements, physical distancing rules, and other standards face stiff penalties.”
Meanwhile, Brown has enlisted the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and OSHA to begin "spot checks" on restaurants, bars, and other businesses throughout the state — starting with the holiday weekend. Officials will be enforcing the face covering, physical distancing, and occupancy requirements under Oregon's coronavirus restrictions.
Brown's office said that OSHA and OLCC staff may issue citations, fines, or "Red Warning Notices" if they encounter violations — the latter of which applies to businesses in willful violation of the Governor's orders and who refuse to make corrections. Those businesses could be closed, accompanied by stiff penalties.
“We stand at a crossroads this weekend –– we can either stop the spread of COVID-19, or infections and hospitalizations will rise across Oregon and I will reinstate restrictive measures in impacted counties and business sectors," Brown said.