Looking Forward To Normalcy

Riley Bader, Staff Reporter

In the midst of a global pandemic, millions are wondering when it will be safe enough to begin to return to normal. Ideally, going back outside would mean the end of quarantine and travel bans. But according to experts, returning to “normal” will not be so simple. 

Recently, Governor Kate Brown released her statement clarifying and explaining the newly formed guidelines for reopening in Oregon. In response to questions about complete normalcy, Brown reminded the public “This virus is still very dangerous and until there is a vaccine, unfortunately, we will not be able to go back to life as we know it.” But, phase one of the state’s plan regards opening most businesses provided there are distancing restrictions. Brown elaborated that “Restaurants and bars will be open for service, but only with adequate physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings by employees. Gyms, salons and barber shops will also open in a similar way.” 

During her press conference, Brown described how businesses will additionally need to sanitize. Retail stores staying clean, using one way flow aisles, and sporting proper signage are also part of the guidelines. The Governor told counties that applications to enter phase one can be reviewed by the Oregon Health Authority as early as Friday, May 15th. As counties begin to ensconce themselves in these new regulations, covid-related health cases can be tracked by health officials, watching for unhealthy increases in emergencies. 

If a county follows these rules and there are no unnatural case spikes, after 21 days, that county is eligible to enter phase two. Brown remarked “…the details of phase two will be finalized shortly…” However, phase two roughly allows for expanded gatherings and nursing home visitations as well as extended office hours. Concerning school, Brown announced the decision “…to close in-person classes for the remainder of the school year.” Online classes continue for students until summer begins. Not much other information can be confirmed about school in the fall, but Brown is expected to release more later in the month. While there is much disappointment amongst all students, this closure “is the best thing we can do for the health of our children and for thousands of educators across the state,” Brown expressed. 

Uncertainty about coronavirus still plagues everyone, but Brown vocalizes that “We have consulted extensively with doctors, nurses and public health experts. They tell us under the right restrictions, we can take this step safely.” Cautiously, the public can begin the process of reopening by staying informed and following phase guidelines.