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Lincoln County was among the 28 counties that were approved to enter Phase I of the Governor’s Reopening Oregon plan.

During a May 14 press conference, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that the state has reviewed 33 applications for entering Phase I. Gov. Brown reiterated this week that their safety measures have been working, preventing as many as 70,000 COVID-19 infections and 1,500 hospitalizations in Oregon.

“Our success this far gives me confidence as we take the next steps towards our reopening process,” Gov. Brown said.

As Lincoln County’s application received approval, two counties (Marion and Polk) did not received approval on their application. Also, Jefferson, Umatilla and Morrow Counties are among those still under review.

“In each of these counties, we will continue to monitor testing rates, effectiveness of contact tracing and isolating new cases, hospitalization rates and other metrics that are required to remain open during Phase I,” Gov. Brown said. “Overall, I was incredibly impressed by the amount of work the counties put into their applications.”

Starting Friday, May 15, the approved counties will be able to reopen the following business with new guidelines in place.

- Restaurants and bars can open for sit down service as long as they maintain six feet distance between parties, limit parties to a maximum of 10 people, require employees to wear face coverings and end onsite consumption by 10 p.m.

- Personal care businesses, such as barbers and salons, can open but must screen clients before service, limit visits to scheduled appointments, record their client list, maintain physical distance between clients and require providers to wear face coverings.

- Gyms and Fitness Centers can open but must maintain six feet between users, close showers and pools and have very strong cleaning protocols in place.

- Gatherings of up to 25 will be allowed with physical distancing measures in place.

Gov. Brown acknowledge that this news of approval will be met with both agreement and disagreement, but the state is confident in their decision to begin the reopening process.

“I’ve been in this job long enough to know that I am not here to make everyone happy. If I tried to please everyone, well, then nothing would get done,” Gov. Brown said. “I’m focused on protecting the health and safety of Oregonians while understanding that job losses have a negative impact on public health, both physical and emotional health.”

All approved counties will stay in that Phase for at least three weeks. If there is a significant spike, the stay at home rules may be put back in place, said Gov. Brown.

“We know and expect that there may be an uptick in cases,” Brown said. “Reopening comes with risks, until there is a vaccine life will not go back to as we knew it.

“We are venturing out onto thin ice and we need to step carefully and cautiously.”

Brown also advised that everyone should continue to practice physical distancing and wear face coverings.

Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson issued a statement on the approval and advised caution as Lincoln County enters the reopening process.

“Our restaurants and businesses will be moving to open tomorrow with guidelines in place. However, please be thoughtful and considerate of others as we start interacting with others,” Anderson said. “We have had our 7th case in this County and if the numbers increase too rapidly, we could be moved back to lockdown.

“We are thankful our businesses are moving to a new normal with this reopening. There will be more news about short term rentals after our countywide meeting this afternoon.”

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