PORTLAND — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday banned on-site consumption of food and drink at restaurants and bars, a 180-degree turn from indications she gave earlier in the day that she would not order closures or curfews.
Brown’s order, which takes effect Tuesday, March 17, allows restaurants to offer delivery or takeout service. But across Oregon, restaurants were electing to close entirely.
According to state labor data, businesses employ about 155,000 food service workers.
The development came as Brown continues to ramp up restrictions intended to keep people out of crowds and away from each other if they’re sick.
She has ordered nursing homes and other licensed facilities to limit visiting to the 30,000 Oregonians living in such settings. She has ordered every public school closed through at least April 1, sending 580,000 students home for at least two weeks.
And on Monday, she tightened the state’s ban on gatherings, now prohibiting any involving 25 or more people and urging Oregonians not to convene in gatherings of more than 10 people. She also urged any business that isn’t able to expand service to takeout or delivery to evaluate whether they should remain open.
“Each action has a ripple effect across our state, both on a personal level and an economic one,” Brown said. “Working together, we can overcome these hurdles in an Oregon way.”
On Sunday, Brown told reporters she was considering imposing a curfew or even closing the state’s restaurants and bars but on Monday morning, she said she decided against such actions. And four hours after that, she announced the ban on inside dining.
According to Amy Lewin, spokeswoman for the Portland Business Alliance, her organization is evaluating the impact to its members, including the financial harm.
The situation is similar at the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, where Executive Director Carmen Castro and the organization’s business development team is working with clients to weather the impact of COVID-19.
“I don’t have a lot of information to share about what members are saying at this point,” Castro said. “Our clients have expressed concern about their businesses as well as their own personal and family health.”