New COVID-19 guidelines starting in Oregon on Dec. 3rd

Gov. Kate Brown’s state-wide freeze ends on Dec. 2nd, and Oregon’s new reopening guidelines will take effect the following day. The state of Oregon announced the new framework on Nov. 25th, and it will allow for a data-dependent, county-by-county reopening.



According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), each of Oregon’s 36 counties will be given a risk level based on its COVID-19 data. Starting Dec. 3rd, the extent to which a county can reopen depends on what its risk level is. These measures are more intricate than those under the freeze, which were not county-specific. There are four risk levels identified by the guidelines:

  • Extreme Risk
  • High Risk
  • Moderate Risk
  • Lower Risk

In the first week of every two-week period after Dec. 3rd, counties will receive “Warning Week” data to warn them of possible risk level changes for the following week. The OHA will evaluate COVID-19 data every two weeks and update county risk levels. 

“We will adapt and simplify our Public Health indicators, and set appropriate risk levels for counties based on that criteria that will be evaluated weekly,” said OHA State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “Recommended activities will be assessed by the risk potential for spreading COVID-19. More activities will be permitted in counties deemed to be at lower risk of COVID-19 and fewer activities — or even some prohibited — in counties considered to be at extreme risk.”

Low-risk counties will be allowed to have a maximum limit of 10 people for social gatherings, 50% capacity for indoor recreation and entertainment, and limited office work. Counties deemed to be high-risk will have to limit at-home gatherings to six people, will be prohibited from indoor recreation and entertainment, and will need to close offices and work remotely if possible.

“We believe that implementing this framework will enable us to better manage the impacts of COVID-19 through the winter until we can defeat the pandemic through emerging therapeutics and — hopefully soon — proven vaccines,” Sidelinger said.

The end of the freeze does not mean a widespread relaxation of restrictions. In fact, some counties will have harsher restrictions under the new guidelines than they had under the freeze. For example, 27 counties could have 50% occupancy limits on retail stores come Dec. 3rd — tighter occupancy regulations than the 75% required under the freeze.

As of Nov. 23rd, 21 counties, including Multnomah and Washington Counties, are listed as high-risk. Five, including Morrow and Tillamook Counties, are low-risk. The OHA will reevaluate data on Monday and update risk-level classifications.