Oregon Begins To “Reopen”

Oregon Begins To “Reopen”

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As elsewhere in the U.S., Oregon has been subject to coronavirus “Stay-At-Home” orders and restrictions on travel, closure of restaurants and bars, and very importantly for Oregonians, access to its state parks.

Beginning on Friday, May 15, 2020, Oregon Governor Brown approved the applications of 31 of the state’s 36 counties to enter “Phase I” of “reopening.

Counties surrounding or near Portland did not apply to “reopen” (presumably because none believed they could meet the criteria to ease the coronavirus restrictions) and ironically, Marin County where Salem, the state capitol is located, did not have its application approved yet.

Oregonians (at least those living in urban areas) are encouraged to limit travel to no more than 50 miles from home but that means at least for some, visiting state parks is now possible, including at least some in the state’s popular coastal areas.

And others may venture into state parks east of the Cascades, such as Smith Rock State Park, especially if they reside in cities like Bend or Sisters.

Here’s the advice from the Oregon Health Authority on state park visits:

“How to safely visit state parks

“As parts of Oregon enter phase one of reopening, some state parks are now open for limited day-use. At this time, all overnight camping remains temporarily closed. Before visiting a park, check out the park map at https://bit.ly/oprd-c19map to see the status of all parks and available services and facilities, including hours of operation.

“Visitors should expect a different state park experience than they are used to, and will need to prepare by:

  • Staying home if you’re sick.
  • If visiting, staying local and close to home, meaning less than 50 miles in urban areas.
  • Only visiting with members of their household.
  • Bringing all supplies—food, water, hand cleanser—needed for a short trip.

“If a park appears crowded, leave and come back at another time. If there’s space at the park, patrons need to visit with care:

  • Wear a face covering. Homemade is fine.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people who aren’t from your household. More is better.
  • Cover your cough with a tissue (then throw it away), or the inside of your elbow.
  • Leave no trace: Pack out everything you bring with you.
  • Stick to low-risk activities to reduce stress on local emergency response and health care systems.
  • Keep your visit short. Restrooms and other buildings may be closed.
  • Watch for signs at the park for more information.

“Additional information and FAQs are available on the Oregon State Parks COVID-19 page.”

“Phase I” of “reopening” will last at least three weeks or until approximately June 5th. After that, counties may be granted permission to move into “Phase II” which could expand “gathering size, allow some office work, plus begin to allow visitation to [nursing homes on a limited basis].”

“But Phase III” which could include “concerts, conventions, festivals, [and}live-audience sports” won’t occur until at least October.

Presumably after “Phase I” restrictions on travel may lessen and more state parks may open.


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