SH enters Phase 2 of post-COVID

Sweet Home and Linn County are moving into Phase 2 of the recovery process after the coronavirus shutdown, after the county received approval from the governor’s office last week.

Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday, June 4, that residents of 26 counties would move to Phase 2 over the weekend. According to the governor’s office, county officials requested specific dates for reopening. Moving into Phase 2 on Friday, June 5, were Linn, Benton, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Morrow, Union, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler counties.

Saturday was the day for Baker, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Gilliam, Harney, Malheur, Sherman and Yamhill counties, while Tillamook County waited till Monday, June 8.

County officials submitted requests last week to enter Phase 2. To do so, they had to demonstrate that they met criteria set forth by the governor’s office.

Each county was required to spend a minimum of 21 days in Phase 1, with no significant increase in positive cases recorded by the Oregon Health Authority, which analyzed county-level metrics to see if counties have sufficiently contained the virus, and if local health departments are adequately testing and tracking cases.

Oregon recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, June 7, with 146 – one in Linn County.

However, the Oregon Health Authority noted that “this number sounds worrisome, but it is tied to several factors, including more widespread testing, increased contact tracing and active monitoring of close contacts of cases. Workplace outbreaks are another source of the high number.”

According to the OHA, hospitalizations are declining and testing is becoming more widely available. Oregon last week had the fourth-lowest case rate in the country, the OHA said.

Under Phase 2 guidelines, “subject to public health guidelines, physical distancing, gathering size limits, and sanitization guidelines, this includes: recreational sports; pools; venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades; some additional in-office work; bars and restaurants able to stay open until midnight; social, civic, and faith-based gatherings can meet in larger, physically distanced groups,” the governor’s office said.

Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, double what was allowed under Phase 1. Outdoor gatherings can have up to 100 people, including backyard weddings, recreational sports and similar activities.

Larger venues will be able to have up to 250 people, depending on the size of the building; potentially opening up larger restaurants, and venues such as movie theaters and gyms.

Bars and restaurants will be able to stay open until midnight, two hours later than the curfew set for Phase 1.

Theaters and places of worship will still have to maintain COVID-19 occupancy limits, based on the size of the building.

Pools and spas will be able to reopen as long as they provide sufficient space for people to stay apart, and people who are part of the same group can swim together.

Recreational non-contact sports like tennis and pickleball will return to outdoor courts, and youth sports will receive guidance regarding equipment sharing. Indoor activities like bowling, arcades and mini golf will also receive specific guidance for reopening. 

In Sweet Home, many services will be open, some with restrictions.

– Parks: City parks will be open, per OHA guidance, but playgrounds, sports courts, and gazebos will remain closed. 

– Library: Beginning Tuesday, June 16, the library will open to the public.Until then, patrons can continue accessing books online through Library2Go and the curbside pickup arrangement that has been in place for the past month.

– Finance/Utility Billing will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.