Jail time and hefty fines could be the penalty for violators of Democrat Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s two-week “freeze” limiting the size of social gatherings to six people and more. Those who fail to comply with the new rules could face fines up to $1,250 or spend up to a month behind bars, The Oregonian reported.
On Friday, Gov. Brown released the order requiring bars and restaurants to return to takeout only and indoor facilities like gyms, museums, and skating rinks to completely close until the order will supposedly be lifted after December 2, The Oregonian reported. The new orders are some of the most stringent in the state since a stay-at-home order in March.
Included in the “freeze” is a rule that indoor and outdoor gatherings must be limited to six people from two separate households. Grocery stores and pharmacies are also required to limit capacities. Houses of worship are allowed indoor crowds of no more than 25 people. Those traveling are required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in the state.
Brown also said the “freeze” could be extended in specific counties, adding that the freeze in Portland is currently established for four weeks.
Brown cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the strict orders. According to Reuters, the infection fatality rate of the coronavirus is down 30 percent since April, with 0.6 percent of those infected passing away, compared to 0.9 percent early on in the pandemic.
“For the last eight months, I have been asking Oregonians to follow the letter and the spirit of the law and we have not chosen to engage law enforcement. At this point in time, unfortunately, we have no other option,” the governor said last weekend. “We are trying to stop this ferocious virus from spreading even more quickly and far wide, and to save lives.”
The majority of the freeze won’t take effect until Wednesday, but the governor said social gathering limits begin immediately.
Brown said she would limit her own Thanksgiving to four people, adding, “I know it doesn’t look like the Thanksgiving holiday we’ve all been planning for weeks, and I know it’s really, really hard, but unfortunately it’s a necessity right now.”
According to a spokesperson for the governor, the Oregon State Police “will be working with local law enforcement to enforce the Governor’s orders, in the same way local law enforcement officers respond to noise complaints for loud parties, for example, and issue citations.”
“I will take a stronger legal action as appropriate,” Brown said. “I’ve already directed the superintendent of state police to begin to work with local law enforcement to legally enforce the informal social gathering orders.”
Oregon’s population is 4.2 million people. The New York Times reported that as of November 16, of the 56,880 cases, 762 deaths have occurred in association with COVID-19.