SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown and officials from the Oregon Health Authority held a press briefing on Wednesday morning to discuss updates on the state's response to coronavirus, including changes for businesses and new face covering requirements for children.
"The COVID-19 virus is continuing to spread too quickly across Oregon," Brown said. "So it's time for further actions to stop the spread of this disease."
Effective Friday statewide, Brown said that face covering requirements — which now cover both indoor and outdoor public spaces — will be expanded to include children age 5 and older. Face coverings are still recommended for kids ages 2 through 5 under Oregon's guidance.
"If your child is 5 or older, you will need to help them wear a face covering to protect themselves and others," Brown said.
Face covering exceptions for indoor exercise will also be removed, meaning that people working out in gyms or fitness centers will have to wear masks even while exercising.
Gathering size will be limited to 100 in all indoor venues — including churches, gyms, and movie theaters. The outdoor gathering limit of 250 will remain unchanged, Brown said. Bars and restaurants will also be required to stop serving customers at 10 p.m. statewide.
All of these changes go into effect on July 24.
The new mask requirements for children mean changes for how schools operate when classes resume in the fall.
ODE's existing guidance requires protective equipment for most staff and encourages face coverings for students from 6th to 12th grade, it does not require students to wear masks — stating that "students who choose not to wear face coverings must be provided access to instruction." That guidance is now set to be updated with the new mask requirements.
Most southern Oregon school districts have indicated that they will provide a combination of full in-person learning, particularly for younger students, and a hybridized model for students to learn both at home and in classrooms. However, plans are likely to change depending on conditions as the school year draws closer.
Brown said that she also anticipates updates to Oregon's county "watch list," which includes a handful of Oregon counties that have seen alarming levels of "sporadic," or community spread cases that cannot be traced to a source.
"Several counties on the watch list continue to experience very rapid spread of the disease, while others may be in a position to be taken off the list because they are seeing fewer sporadic cases, and fewer cases overall, than at the peak of their local outbreaks," Brown said. "Unfortunately, we may also need to add a few other counties to the watch list."
The Governor has indicated in previous statements that counties on the state watch list may be made to roll back reopening phases if the spread of COVID-19 is not curtailed.
A number of cases in Oregon have come from "tourism," Brown said, a matter that her office is discussing with leaders from other states. Travel may be restricted between Oregon and higher risk states, or travelers may be required to self-quarantine.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.