Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order on June 25 saying the state would lift all statewide COVID-19 restrictions by June 30 even if the 70% adult vaccination benchmark is not met. Currently 65.7% of Oregonians over 16 are vaccinated or have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Lifting state restrictions wouldn't interfere with individual counties' ability to maintain their own restrictions, but the state will shift its focus toward recovery from the economic impacts of COVID.
- Alexandra Koch / Pixabay
- A student removes his mask at school.
"I'm proud of our collective efforts to vaccinate more than 2.3 million Oregonians. It is because of this success that we can move Oregon forward, and into the next chapter of this pandemic. We are ready," Brown said in a statement. "We should all take pride in the work we have done to bring us to this moment. The efforts underway to close our vaccine equity gap and reach every Oregonian with information and a vaccine have definitely helped bring us this far."
The lifting of restrictions was met positively by the Oregon GOP, although they emphasized that they believed Oregon Democrats used the emergency declaration to increase their own power.
"While there is really no need to wait until June 30, it's great news that Oregonians will finally be able to get back to normal life. Businesses and customers won't have to worry about vaccine passports anymore. Oregonians should not forget the gross abuse of power that has taken place by Democrats over the last year that locked kids out of the classroom, devastated small businesses, and threw people out of work," said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod in a press release.
The governor's order will effectively end the original Stay Home, Save Lives order and the subsequent orders that stemmed from it. Mask mandates will be lifted, county risk levels scrapped and any business restrictions will expire, but the order also extends the COVID emergency declaration.
"Emergency authority continues to be necessary to provide flexibility and resources for vaccination efforts, health system response to COVID-19 including staffing flexibility, Oregon's access to FEMA, enhanced SNAP benefits, and other federal aid, to allow the continued operation of certain emergency child care providers through the summer, unemployment insurance claim processing, and more," a press release from the governor's office said.
Statewide mask mandates will remain in effect for a few high-risk settings like airports, public transit and health care settings.
"Though Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is planning to reopen the state June 30, leaving it up to individual counties to make decisions about masking and social distancing requirements, all St. Charles Health System hospitals and clinics will continue to require masking and social distancing," a press release from St. Charles said. "Screening for COVID-19 symptoms and checking temperatures will also continue at entrances regardless of a person's vaccination status."
Schools will also prepare for a more typical 2021-2022 school year, with local school districts deciding best practices for the health and safety of teachers and children. The Oregon Health Authority is working on updated guidance for schools, but districts are expected to, "Comply with longstanding regulations around the control of infectious diseases, and to have a communicable disease management plan."