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Lawmakers reopen Oregon capitol to the public after more than a year of COVID-19 measures

The capitol in Salem was closed to the public in March of 2020 as a precaution against coronavirus.

Posted: Jul 12, 2021 11:00 AM
Updated: Jul 12, 2021 11:46 AM

SALEM, Ore. — Leaders in the Oregon House and Senate announced on Monday that the capitol in Salem will be largely accessible to the public again for the first time since March of last year.

In a joint statement, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek said that the decision stemmed from new Oregon Health Authority guidance and Governor Kate Brown's decision to lift most COVID-19 restrictions on July 1.

“The last year has been extremely hard on our state. Oregonians have suffered devastating wildfires, an ice storm, a historic heatwave, and extreme drought," the lawmakers said. "Through it all, we have battled a global pandemic that has dramatically changed our daily lives.

“Last March, we consulted with infectious disease doctors and public health officials about what changes were needed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the Capitol. In the end, we made the very difficult decision to limit Capitol entry to legislators, essential staff, and members of the press.

“Over 70% of Oregonians 18 and older are now vaccinated against COVID-19 and community spread has reduced considerably. We are extremely grateful to Oregonians for stepping up to help beat this pandemic. With new guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and the lifting of county risk levels, we are excited to expand entry to the Capitol today to include members of the public.”

The decision to close the capitol to the public became a point of contention as the pandemic dragged on. Republicans in the House and Senate made complaints about the lack of public access a refrain that accompanied nearly every piece of legislation considered by the two chambers during the 2021 session. Public comment and viewership of hearings continued over Zoom.

Courtney and Kotek said that certain areas of the capitol will be under construction over the summer and through fall, and access to the Senate and House wings will be limited to construction crews until December. The State Street entrances and front steps will also be temporarily closed for construction, though the north ADA entrances will be accessible to visitors.

The Oregon State Capitol Visitor Services staff will be bringing back many of the customary services for visitors over the next few weeks:

  • The Capitol Store will be open from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for the next few weeks. Visit their website or Facebook page for updates.
  • Capitol tours will be self-guided for the week of July 12th.
  • Guided tours will be offered daily at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. beginning July 19th. Beginning mid-August, guided tours will be expanded to four tours per day.
  • Tower tours will resume in 2022.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 396501

Reported Deaths: 5268
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah61066850
Washington42631406
Marion40277517
Clackamas33256388
Lane30473363
Jackson25211363
Deschutes23984192
Umatilla15155184
Linn14966184
Douglas13608295
Josephine10357248
Yamhill9878145
Klamath9120152
Polk8347103
Benton622940
Malheur593592
Coos5806109
Columbia441156
Jefferson426066
Lincoln367952
Crook343958
Union341456
Wasco319646
Clatsop265435
Baker222533
Tillamook219846
Hood River217237
Morrow198425
Curry194239
Harney121733
Grant109116
Lake106318
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1161
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5127121

Reported Deaths: 74911
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153745027248
San Diego4104514351
Riverside3912955388
San Bernardino3784085998
Orange3367395771
Sacramento1699162460
Kern1588341838
Fresno1581872284
Santa Clara1536961933
Alameda1262241513
San Joaquin1084911837
Ventura1049251194
Contra Costa1046451058
Stanislaus922291434
Tulare869791102
San Francisco57458674
San Mateo56861631
Monterey52973626
Solano48014360
Santa Barbara47846555
Merced45506672
Sonoma43609414
Placer42736473
Imperial39148778
Kings35547369
San Luis Obispo31803360
Madera26511311
Shasta26353462
Butte25690320
Santa Cruz22540224
Yolo21792263
Marin18728249
El Dorado18544168
Sutter14691186
Napa13501107
Yuba1084791
Humboldt10360119
Tehama10329133
Nevada10187105
Mendocino873799
Lassen801259
San Benito793979
Tuolumne782691
Lake7073113
Amador583267
Siskiyou480757
Glenn460336
Calaveras449988
Del Norte380442
Colusa329821
Inyo259446
Plumas19679
Mono19274
Mariposa163318
Trinity102117
Modoc7956
Unassigned3820
Sierra2210
Alpine1080
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