Lincoln County officials say it remains uncertain when Lincoln County will qualify for an initial reopening of businesses under the State of Oregon plan announced Thursday due to questions about regional readiness.
Oregon’s reopening plan set forth by the Governor yesterday has seven key criteria measured at the County level or at a regional level that must be met before a County may enter Phase 1 of reopening. Lincoln County is in a region that includes Lincoln, Benton, Linn, Polk, Yamhill and Marion Counties.
Commissioner Kaety Jacobsen, Board of Commissioners Chair, said “It’s clear that Lincoln County can meet county-level benchmarks set out by the state of Oregon. However, there is less clarity if the county’s regional partners will be ready to meet regional criteria for hospital surge capacity, personal protective equipment supply levels for hospitals, and testing resources and capacity for the region.”
Under Phase 1, businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as restaurants, retail shops and salons, would be eligible to open under state guidelines designed to limit potential spread of the virus. Counties were notified Thursday the state is ready to begin accepting applications for Phase 1 reopening, and state approval of the plan will allow opening of some limited areas as soon as May 15 if all the county and regional criteria are met.
Even under Phase 1 reopening, the Executive Orders discouraging nonessential travel remain in place as does the Stay at Home order, modified in some fashion to allow people to visit reopened businesses. In Lincoln County restrictions on local short-term lodging are covered by a separate order adopted by the county and cities and are not part of the state-approved reopening plan. The governor expressed concerns in a call with commissioners Thursday that the reopening not result in a deluge of visitors to the coast. Local work on a phased reopening of short-term lodging is included in the local planning process.
Commissioner Jacobson said the commissioners and county leadership are fully aware of the hardships the closures have placed on many local business owners, operators and employees. “It’s a challenging and difficult act to balance health and economic concerns, but we will make the best decisions we can based on the available data.”
She added that the county leadership team is actively pressing to determine answers to regional questions and is proceeding with an application to reopen with the information available on County levels of readiness.