Governor quits pleading, directs Oregonians to stay home and more businesses to close

Gov. Kate Brown announces new state restrictions in a news conference in Portland on Thursday, March 12. (Jonathan House/Pamplin Media)

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Gov. Kate Brown on Monday put teeth in her directive for Oregonians to stay home, saying those who violate her new restrictions could face criminal prosecution.

In doing so, she expanded the list of businesses that have to close, ranging from barber shops to tanning salons.

She directed all pools, skate parks and playgrounds be closed.

She ordered all state office buildings closed and urged local governments to follow suit.

And she prohibited Oregonians from patronizing any business closed by her order.

Brown’s executive order builds on the restrictions she has added in the past two weeks and follows turmoil over the weekend as vacationing Oregonians crowded coastal towns, parks and trails. She also was facing unrelenting pressure from Portland elected officials and the state’s medical associations to mandate the stay-at-home policy.

Her focus is on slowing the spread of COVID-19 before so many people are infected across the state that hospitals and the health care system are overwhelmed.

Now, she’s telling Oregonians that if they don’t obey, they could face prosecution for a misdemeanor that fully applied could mean 30 days in jail and a $1,250 fine.

Under her order, she wants people “to the maximum extent possible” to stay home. She is prohibiting social and recreational gatherings regardless of size and if the social distancing standard of keeping people six feet apart can’t be followed. She mandated that people leaving their home follow that social distancing standard when out in public except with those in their immediate family.

She continued to allow outside recreational activities but only if social distancing is followed and there is no contact.

“Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this executive order constitutes an imminent threat and creates an immediate danger to public health,” the governor said in her order.

And she ordered a long list of businesses to close by Tuesday. They included those providing personal services such as hairdressers and tattoo parlors and certain retailers such as furniture and jewelry stores. Gyms must close and must fraternal group facilities, youth clubs and private clubs.

For businesses that remain open, they are to name someone to be in charge of social distancing standards. Any business that doesn’t do so “will be closed until they demonstrate compliance.”

The governor prodded businesses to become even more expansive in sending employees home to work.

“Work in offices is prohibited whenever telework and work-at-home options are available” and any business not obeying will be closed, the order said.

Les Zaitz: [email protected]