First phase of Oregon reopening to begin May 15

Certain businesses that have been closed since the middle of March will be eligible for reopening next week on a region-by-region basis, part of Oregon’s gradual process of recovering from COVID-19.

Gov. Kate Brown and members of the COVID-19 response team addressed the reopening plan in a press conference on Thursday.

The Oregon Health Authority will accept regional reopening plans beginning Friday, and if they are approved, restaurants, bars, gyms and salons in those counties could open as early as May 15 as long as social distancing and protective measures are followed. Gatherings in those counties could also increase to 25 people.

Renee Edwards, the OHSU chief medical officer and member of the governor’s COVID-19 team, added that medical providers will remain open.

OHA Director Pat Allen said current metrics indicate that most Oregon counties will be able to enter phase one of reopening on May 15. Counties then must wait three weeks and closely watch the infection rate before applying to move into phase two. Details of phase two are still being developed, but will likely include more business reopenings and larger public gatherings.

“We are not returning to business as usual,” Allen said, “We are venturing into uncharted territory.”

Reopening criteria can be found here.

Phase three would include a much wider reopening of businesses and gatherings, but may not be achievable until a vaccine is widely available. Gov. Brown said large gatherings including sporting events, concerts, festivals and conventions through September will be canceled or significantly modified. Fairs may be able to modify some events to comply with restriction requirements, Gov. Brown said, but other summer gatherings will have to postpone or cancel.

Once regions are approved for reopening, they must carefully track infection rates and hospitalizations.They must maintain a decline in hospitalizations and COVID-like illnesses must remain below a baseline average for flu-like illnesses. Counties must employ 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents and be able to trace 95% of contacts within 24 hours.

Counties must be also able to test 30 people per 10,000 residents per week and maintain 20% of their total hospital beds, as well as enough PPE to protect health care workers.

Business reopening:
Once a region is approved for reopening, businesses within the county can resume limited operations.


  • Limited occupancy to ensure parties of 10 or fewer can maintain six feet of separation.
  • Staff must wear facemasks.


  • Social distancing must be enforced when possible.
  • Staff must wear facemasks.
  • Customers must be asked whether they have COVID-19 symptoms and all appointments must be tracked for contact tracing purposes.

Malls, art galleries, furniture stores and other retail may reopen on May 15 with social distancing measures in place.

Oregon’s counties are broken into seven regions, though multiple regions are combined for the first phase of reopening.

Region 1: Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas

Region 2: Yamhill, Polk, Lincoln, Benton, Marion, Linn

Region 3/Region 5: Lane, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Jackson, Josephine

Region 6/Region 9: Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker, Malheur

Region 7: Jefferson, Deschutes, Crook, Wheeler, Grant, Klamath, Lake, Harney