Reopening relief: JaCo, JoCo, Klam Co. going to ‘high risk’ Friday

SALEM, Ore. —Governor Kate Brown announced Tuesday that 15 counties are headed back to the ‘high-risk’ category. Wednesday businesses are celebrating the decision, but many are worried this could all happen again soon.

Many restaurants are preparing to reopen their doors for indoor dining, this Friday. But for some, they are left racing against the clock.

“We hope that we never go back to the ‘extreme risk’ level,” said Josie Molloy, President of the Josephine County Chamber.

Just last week Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath County restaurants were all in the ‘extreme risk’ category. Now, they’re able to open up to indoor dining beginning Friday.

“It’s great news to hear we are moving down but I think businesses are just cautious because they never know when the metrics are going to change,” said Molloy.

Molloy says she receives calls daily from concerned business owners, and there are a lot of them, across the state.

Jefferson Spirits Bar in Medford hasn’t been open since the county moved to extreme, because its outdoor space isn’t big enough. Owner Dennis Clark says his indoor space is vital to his bottom line. He would open today if he could.

“I really feel like we’ve had like 3 or 4 dress rehearsals for this already this year so we’ll be up and running,” said Clark.

But over at the larger Jacksonville Inn, it isn’t so easy.

“It’s a 24/7 operation right now trying to get ready for this weekend,” said Jerry Evans, Owner.

Evans says Mothers Day weekend is his busiest of the year.

“We had to call over 300 reservations to tell them not to come in, and now as soon as we open up, they are all calling back at the same time and you can’t answer that many phones, ” said Evans.

Despite the good news, many in the business community are concerned, that their future is uncertain, due to state covid restrictions.

In the state’s email announcing the decision Tuesday, Governor Kate Brown said, “With Oregonians continuing to get vaccinated each week, my expectation is that we will not return to extreme risk again for the duration of the pandemic.”

We reached out to the governor’s spokesperson for details on why the governor is so confident we won’t go back to ‘extreme’. We haven’t heard back.

No Oregon counties will be in extreme, beginning Friday.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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