Oregon Republicans launch new effort to recall Gov. Brown

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Gov. Kate Brown

Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday ordered bars to close earlier, lowered the age for mask requirements, further limited crowd sizes and said she may impose travel restrictions.

Brown spoke at a Wednesday morning teleconference to lay out new rules she said are required because the spread of COVID-19 in the state remains too rapid to contain. State officials said the number of cases of new infections was up 26 percent from the week before.

"Oregon, we ventured out onto the ice together and that ice has begun to crack. Before we fall through the ice, we need to take steps to protect ourselves and our community," Brown said.

Effective this Friday, July 24:

• Anyone 5 and older must wear a mask in public indoor spaces and outdoors where social distancing is not possible. Masks are recommended but not required for those between 2 and 5.

• The maximum number of people allowed inside indoor restaurants, bars, churches, theaters and other venues is reduced from 250 to 100.

• Restaurants and bars in Phase 2 counties — which includes most of the state — must close at 10 p.m., two hour earlier than the current midnight.

• Gyms must require face masks even while customers exercise.

In one loosening of restrictions, Brown announced that outdoor visits to people in long-term care facilities will be allowed as long as there are no virus cases at the facility.

Brown said the limit of 250 people at outdoor gatherings would not be changed at this time. The limit on 10 people at indoor private events would also stay the same.

Oregon officials are in discussions with neighboring states on how to implement possible restrictions targeting leisure travel from states and other places that are "hot spots." Brown said any restrictions would not limit commerce or travel for business.

Brown said the state's watchlist of counties with the most acute situations of COVID-19 will be revised within the next few days. Some counties may go off the list while others will be added.

More guidance for schools on reopening was also issued Wednesday. Brown reiterated that "many if not most" schools will likely be teaching via distance learning or a hybrid of distance learning and in-class instruction.

"This is not an on or off switch," Brown said. "This disease is something that, for the time being, we must learn to live with."

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