Deschutes County Enters High Risk on February 12


On February 9, 2021, the Governor’s Office confirmed that Deschutes County will join ten other Oregon counties in moving from “Extreme Risk” to “High Risk” effective this Friday, February 12.

This new risk level and associated business guidance will remain in place until at least Thursday, February 25. On Tuesday, February 23rd the COVID-19 infection rates from the previous two weeks will determine Deschutes County’s risk level for a new two-week period beginning on Friday, February 26.

This is good news. The rate of COVID-19 spread in our region has been slowing and the reductions in business restrictions will help some of our hardest-hit businesses resume somewhat more normal operations.

You can view a high-level overview of the High Risk business guidance by sector here or read on for some key things to know as we prep for the change:

Determining Maximum Occupancy
Much of the State business guidance requires you to know the maximum occupancy for your building. Many commercial buildings have a clear maximum occupancy based on guidance from the City’s Building Division and Fire Marshal, which makes for some easy calculation.

This isn’t always the case. If you don’t know your max. occupancy, you can use the following formula based on your building square footage:

  • For 75 percent capacity: 86 square feet of space per person
  • For 50 percent capacity: 120 square feet of space per person
  • For 25 percent capacity: 240 square feet of space per person

You can find the detailed guidance by industry here, be sure to scroll down to the section titled “Guidance Based on County Risk Level.”

For Restaurants
After almost three full months of outdoor dining only in Bend, you’ll be able to welcome customers back inside your business again. Maximum occupancy will be limited to 25% of your building capacity or 50 customers, whichever number is lower. Further, outdoor dining locations are now limited to 75 customers rather than the 50 person limit in the Extreme Risk category.

If you have outdoor dining pods, or a similar setup, those customers count toward your outdoor dining cap, not your indoor one. Parties cannot exceed six people and should be from no more than two households.

You can view the detailed guidance for restaurants and bars here.

For Gyms & Indoor Entertainment
For gyms and indoor entertainment venues (theaters, museums, etc.), your capacity is now limited to 25% of your maximum occupancy or 50 people, whichever number is smaller. Much like restaurants, if you are running outdoor classes or small events, those capacities are limited to 75 people.

You can find the full guidance for gyms and indoor recreation facilities here and the full guidance for indoor entertainment venues here.
As we’ve all seen, these broad requirements don’t account for the unique situations that your business may be in. If you feel like the guidance is unclear, you have questions, or are unsure how to move forward reach out by hitting reply to this message and I can get in touch with our contacts in State government to get clarification.

Businesses thrive on certainty but we’re still in an uncertain time. Deschutes County just squeaked under the threshold for a High Risk County and guidance could change again in as little as two weeks.

If you’re considering opening up after a long layoff, be prepared for continued shifts in the County risk level. This could mean offering a limited menu to avoid a large food order that may end up unusable or limiting reservations for your facility through February 25. You can expect more clarity, and an update from me, when the State publishes new data two weeks from today.

As you work to keep your employees and customers safe, please reach out if you need some masks. I have thousands of disposable paper masks available for all businesses in Bend, send me an email and we can figure out a delivery or pickup time.

Thank you for doing business in Bend,

Ben Hemson
Business Advocate
City of Bend


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