Signs in the window of Brown's Towne Restaurant and Lounge on Wednesday, September 30. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
New Covid cases haven't fallen in the Salem area over the past week, but restaurants will be able to offer indoor dining again starting Friday in both Marion and Polk counties.
Gov. Kate Brown announced late Tuesday she was moving all counties that had been labeled "extreme risk" for Covid spread back to "high risk" after the rate of new Covid hospitalizations fell statewide. The number of people hospitalized with Covid increased 14.9% statewide over the past week, just shy of the 15% threshold Brown had set for keeping restrictions in place.
That means restaurants can resume indoor service, gyms can increase capacity and other indoor events will be allowed to have more people.
“Let me be clear: across the state, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still high, and Oregon is not out of the woods yet," Brown said in a statement. "However, we have met the hospitalization metric established by our health experts for counties to return to High Risk. From the beginning, I have said that returning counties to the Extreme Risk level was about preserving hospital capacity and saving lives. With our statewide hospitalization rate stabilizing, our hospitals should have the capacity to continue treating patients with severe cases of COVID-19 and other serious medical conditions in the coming weeks."
Brown continued, “Based on today’s numbers, I am keeping my commitment to Oregonians. Beginning Friday, all counties in Extreme Risk will return to High Risk. With Oregonians continuing to get vaccinated each week, my expectation is that we will not return to Extreme Risk again for the duration of this pandemic."