The Freeze is Over. Now What?


Dear Bend Business Owner,

As you likely know by now, the “freeze” is over and beginning today Deschutes County is operating under new rules again.

The phased reopening guidance that has been in place since May is gone and businesses across the state will be governed by the risk levels in their respective counties. Deschutes County, along with 24 other counties statewide, has initially been classified as “Extreme Risk,” you can view the guidance by risk level here.

I realize these changes raise many new questions, I’ll try to cover the basics below. If you need more information or clarification please reach out by hitting reply to this message or calling us at 541-323-7151. I’ll work with our state level contacts to get answers and will share responses to common questions in a future message.

How Will Risk Levels be Reevaluated?

This risk based guidance will be more subject to change, in both positive and negative directions, as cases rise or recede in specific counties.

Every two weeks going forward we can expect a review and potential change in the risk level and associated guidance depending on COVID-19 case levels. In the weeks when risk levels won’t change the State will share where County data is trending. This is being called a “warning week” to alert businesses and residents to a potential shift in county risk level.

Here’s the basic timeline for when you can expect to see these updates from the State of Oregon through mid-January:

  • December 7: Data pull, warning week data posted only
  • December 15: Press release announcing which counties are in what risk level effective December 18
  • December 21: Data pull, warning week data posted only
  • December 29: Press release announcing which counties are in what risk level effective January 1, 2021
  • January 4, 2021: Data pull, warning week data posted only
  • January 12, 2021: Press release announcing which counties are in what risk level effective January 15, 2021

 While the next batch of information on case movement and metrics is not posted yet, you’ll be able to find it here on December 7.

 The Guidelines

You can view specific guidance for your type of business here by scrolling down to “Guidance from OHA” then clicking on the “Guidance Based on County Risk Level” section.

Here’s some additional detail on some of our most impacted business sectors: 

  • Restaurants can now open for limited outdoor dining under the Extreme Risk guidance. Total customers cannot exceed 50 at any one time and groups cannot exceed six per table.
  • A number of bars and restaurants have already invested in tents to accommodate outdoor dining; while it’s not listed in the guidelines the feedback from the Oregon Health Authority is that any tents or outdoor eating areas must have 75 percent of their sides open to the outside to be considered outdoors. You can view the full restaurant guidance here.
  •  Gyms and Indoor Recreation: Under the Extreme Risk level, indoor gyms and recreation facilities cannot operate. Outdoor recreation and fitness businesses can open with a maximum of 50 people in attendance. You can find the outdoor recreation and fitness guidance here.
  •  Retail stores can continue to operate but the maximum in store capacity has been reduced to 50 percent, rather than the 75 percent in place during the freeze. This capacity should be based on your stated building capacity, a number you likely have from the Fire Marshal (note that the number includes customers and employees). You can view the retail guidance here.

I’m well aware that asking you to “hang in there” sounds trite right now. Many of your businesses are right on the brink and what you need is financial assistance. I expect to have news on some local funding from the state for business assistance shortly and am encouraged to see momentum at the federal level for a new round of fiscal stimulus aimed at our most impacted industries. As soon as any funding programs come available I’ll share them with you.

We’ll continue to post updates at but please reach out anytime and I’ll work to get back to you or get you in direct contact with someone that can help.

Thank you for doing business in Bend,

Ben Hemson
Business Advocate
City of Bend



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