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Oregon's stay-at-home order: What does it mean and where am I allowed to go?

Following Gov. Brown's executive order on Monday, many people are still wondering how it applies, and what businesses or services they are allowed to keep using.

Posted: Mar 23, 2020 2:41 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2020 4:24 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — An executive order from Governor Kate Brown on Monday morning outlined a mandated stay-at-home policy throughout Oregon in response to COVID-19 that is similar to those appearing in California and some other states, but different in several key ways.

Naturally many Oregonians are wondering what exactly this means for them — where can they go, and what businesses or services will remain open while the order remains in effect. NewsWatch 12 is digging into precisely that topic.

It's worth noting, however, that just because Brown's order allows some businesses keep their doors open doesn't mean that they won't close down voluntarily. Many businesses have done so already.

First off, the spirit of the stay-at-home order is this — Oregonians should stay at home to the maximum extent possible. That said, with many jobs on the line and people still needing to take care of essentials, most people are going to have to go out on occasion.

With that in mind, this part of Brown's lengthy statement is important:

"While many businesses and organizations that are heavily dependent on foot traffic and in-person interactions have already closed or will close under the expanded order, other businesses that make robust plans to meet social distancing requirements — and enforce those requirements — may remain in operation, preserving jobs while ensuring health.

"This distinction from closing all businesses except for those categorized as essential as mandated in other states, aims to minimize unintended consequences and add clarity for businesses who can adjust their business models to accommodate vital social distancing measures."


What has to close, according to the executive order

  • Amusement parks
  • Aquariums
  • Arcades
  • Art galleries (unless by appointment only)
  • Barber shops and hair salons
  • Bowling alleys
  • Cosmetic stores
  • Dance studios
  • Esthetician practices
  • Fraternal organization facilities
  • Furniture stores
  • Gyms and fitness studios, including climbing gyms
  • Hookah Bars
  • Indoor and outdoor malls (where stores and restaurants are contained in a single area)
  • Indoor party places, including jumping gyms and laser tag
  • Jewelry shops and boutiques (unless operating through pickup or delivery service)
  • Medical, facial, and day spas or non-medical massage therapy services
  • Museums
  • Nail and tanning salons
  • Non-tribal card rooms
  • Skating rinks
  • Senior activity centers
  • Ski resorts
  • Social and private clubs
  • Tattoo and piercing parlors
  • Tennis clubs
  • Theaters
  • Yoga studios
  • Youth clubs

What is allowed to stay open

All businesses covered by Brown's earlier executive order that addressed eating establishments are allowed to stay open under the same rules: Take-out or delivery only, no dining in. That applies to the following types of businesses:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars, taverns, brew pubs and wine bars
  • Cafes and coffee shops
  • Food courts
  • Similar establishments that offer food or drink

RELATED: Many local restaurants still offering take-out or delivery after Governor forbids dine-in


Importantly, any retail stores that aren't explicitly banned above can stay open, but they must choose an employee or officer to establish and enforce social distancing policies with the latest guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, keeping people at least six feet apart. If they don't do this, they will have to close down as well.

Grocery stores, healthcare facilities, and medical or pharmacy services are kept open but are "encouraged" to stick with social distancing guidelines,

What about my job?

If your workplace isn't covered by any of the categories above, then the rules are a bit more nebulous. Any businesses or non-profits that aren't listed above are directed to transition toward telework or work-from-home for their employees "to the maximum extent possible." Working in an office is banned if there are other valid options to work remotely.

These organizations, like retail stores, must also choose a representative to enforce social distancing if people remain working at the office — both for employees and for any critical visitors.

Public services offered by the state of Oregon are under similar guidelines, with the added caveat that they must close to the public as much as possible, and provide services by phone or online unless absolutely necessary. Any in-person interactions should be done by appointment.

Can I go outside?

Please do, but be aware that many typical gathering places are closed — including both private and public campgrounds, pools, skate parks, outdoor sports courts, and playground equipment — and social distancing is the name of the game.

In her announcement on Monday morning, Gov. Brown specifically cited a mass exodus of people to popular outdoor locations over the weekend as one of the primary reasons that she decided to issue a more forceful order. While it's okay to go get some fresh air, crowding to any area defeats the purpose of these guidelines from public health officials.

Any public recreation areas that remain open will be posting signs about social distancing, and making sure trash cans, soap and water, or hand sanitizer are available in restrooms.

Oregonians are directed to minimize everything but essential travel — which means that going on vacation to the beach is probably out of the question. Going for a nice walk outside down to your neighborhood park isn't against the law, though.

What about getting together with friends?

The wording is a little difficult to parse, but the short answer is no. This executive order essentially took the previous limit on gatherings of 25 or more and brought it down to gatherings "of any size." 

However, it does say that these gatherings are only prohibited if at least six feet of distance can't be maintained between people. Governor Brown also gave an exception for people who live together under the same roof (i.e. families or roommates).

Still, the point is to avoid the potential of spreading coronavirus. It's probably best not to get together with your friends or extended family, even if you do stick to the letter of the six feet distance rule.

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