Benton County is moving into the “extreme risk” category effective Friday, joining neighboring Linn County in the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions in the face of a continuing rise in case counts.
Gov. Kate Brown made the announcement on Tuesday.
Also moving from the high to extreme risk classification were Clatsop, Coos, Curry and Lincoln counties, while Tillamook was moved all the way up from moderate. Grant, Harney and Lake counties were moved to lower risk levels.
The changes put 29 of Oregon’s 36 counties at the top end of the risk scale, meaning they must comply with the toughest measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“We continue to see community spread across Oregon to the point that the majority of the state needs to continue with strict health and safety measures,” Brown said in a news release.
“Until we reduce the spread and have high participation in vaccination, all Oregonians need to follow the guidelines in place in their counties.”
The governor called on all Oregonians to continue practicing the basic safety precautions that have been preached since the start of the pandemic: wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid gatherings, wash hands frequently and stay home if you feel sick.
Restrictions established by the Oregon Health Authority for counties in the extreme risk category include:
• Gatherings are limited to no more than six people from two households.
• Indoor seating is prohibited at bars and restaurants, although takeout service and limited outdoor seating are allowed.
• Indoor recreation and fitness establishments must close, although professional and college sports can continue under testing and safety protocols approved by the state.
• Indoor entertainment facilities must close.
• Retail stores are limited to 50% of capacity.
• Faith institutions, funeral homes and cemeteries are limited to 25% capacity or 100 people indoors (whichever is smaller) and to 150 people outdoors.
• Businesses are instructed to require employees to work from home if possible and close offices to the public.
• Outdoor recreational and sports facilities are limited to 50 people.
• Personal services businesses can continue to operate, with COVID-19 precautions in place.
• Long-term care facilities cannot allow visitors inside the building.