TIMELINE: A year of business restrictions and closures in Salem

A sign at Capitol Coffee in March 2020 as Salem businesses saw a first round of pandemic restrictions and closures. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Starting Friday, April 30, Marion and Polk counties will again face new Covid restrictions, with indoor dining banned and larger gyms, museums and indoor entertainment venues capped at six people plus employees.

Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday the closures, which affect 15 Oregon counties, will last for a maximum of three weeks and are necessary to stop hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

For local businesses, the announcement is the third widespread shutdown in just over a year. Here’s a look back at local pandemic restrictions.

March 17, 2020: Gov. Kate Brown issues an executive order prohibiting in-person dining across the state and gatherings of 25 or more people. Restaurants and bars in Salem close their doors or switch to takeout only.

March 23, 2020: Brown issues her “Stay Home, Save Lives” order mandating businesses around Oregon close their doors. Barber shops, hair salons, arcades, museums, gyms, malls, senior centers and thousands of other businesses are shut down.

May 7, 2020: Brown announces a framework for reopening shuttered businesses based on local Covid case numbers, starting May 15. Counties that met the criteria were allowed to offer in-person dining, and resume haircuts and other personal services. Salem-area restaurants plan for hand sanitizer, masks and reduced capacity. 

May 14, 2020: Brown denies reopening requests from Marion and Polk counties after state health officials express concern about a rise in local Covid hospitalizations and a high share of new cases not traced to a known source.

May 22, 2020: Marion and Polk county businesses that had been closed are cleared to begin re-opening. In downtown Salem, people lined up to get their hair cut or nails done, resumed getting tattoos or grabbed a bite to eat. 

November 11, 2020: After weeks of climbing Covid cases, Brown announces a two-week “freeze” and orders restaurants and bars in nine counties, including Marion, to limit capacity to 50 people, including employees. Within days, she extends the order to again prohibit indoor dining statewide and close gyms.

November 18, 2020: Brown’s “freeze” goes into effect, shutting down gyms and dine-in service in Salem and across the state and limiting capacity inside retail businesses. The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association files a lawsuit, later withdrawn, seeking to block the order. Unlike in the March shutdown, salons and personal services remain open.

December 3, 2020: Brown issues an executive order establishing the current risk level framework, where counties must reduce new Covid cases below certain thresholds to resume indoor dining, open gyms and increase capacity at retail businesses. Restaurants and bars across the state are allowed to resume outdoor dining starting Dec. 4. Marion and Polk counties remain far above the state-set limits and will be in “extreme risk” for almost three months.

January 29, 2021: Citing declining Covid cases across Oregon, Brown loosens the rules counties in “extreme risk” must follow. Though both Marion and Polk remain in that category, gyms in Salem are allowed to reopen with up to six people in larger facilities, and video lottery resumes indoors.

February 26, 2021: After weeks of falling Covid cases locally, Marion and Polk counties both clear the threshold to move to “high risk.” Indoor dining resumes.

April 6, 2021: Brown again loosens restrictions, saying counties that post enough new Covid cases to move into a higher risk level will have a two-week “caution” period to bring cases down before new restrictions are imposed. She also says no Oregon county will be assigned “extreme risk” unless statewide Covid-related hospitalizations increase above 300. Brown and state health officials say the changes reflect rising vaccination rates among those most at risk for serious cases of Covid.

April 23, 2021: Brown says in light of rapidly rising Covid cases and hospitalizations in Oregon, she will move counties back to “extreme risk” without the usual warning period if hospitalizations hit the threshold she’s set. Statewide Covid hospitalizations climb over 300 on Monday, April 26.

April 27, 2021: Brown announces Marion, Polk and 13 other Oregon counties will move back to “extreme risk” for a maximum of three weeks.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.