COVID Restrictions Increase as Cases Go Up

Governor Brown implements stricter COVID restrictions on social gatherings and businesses as the U.S. sees its third spike in cases.


After the two week freeze, new COVID-19 restrictions went into effect in each individual Oregon county. 

Restrictions vary by county depending on the severity of the numbers and deaths. So far, 25 of Oregon’s counties, including Clackamas County where Lake Oswego is located, are at an “extreme risk” of COVID-19 and will see the strictest measures to ensure protection against the virus.

Businesses will see the biggest changes. In Clackamas County, along with the safety precautions already in place like hand washing, face coverings and social distancing, restaurants can only operate with outdoor dining and take out. Places like gyms and indoor entertainment will remain closed in “extreme risk,” counties but will be open for limited capacity in “high risk” and lower risk counties. 

What exactly do those restrictions look like in essential businesses? Are they any different from the restrictions already in place? Senior Eliza Buchanan, who works three jobs, shared the impacts of COVID-19 on her jobs.

“For my job in retail, nothing changed too much really. The only thing we’ve had to do is limit how many people in the store,” said Buchanan. “At Subway, there’s a lot more cleaning measures that we have to do, just to make sure that everything is like completely clean and safe.” 

Buchanan notices that people “will wear a mask but they’ll get like close together when they’re like waiting in line or if they’re just like walking around in either store.” She wishes that people would remember to practice social distancing. 

Even though safety measures and precautions began during the spring, those measures are still present and increasing as we enter December.

According to the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert R. Redfield, we can expect to see worse in the coming months. “December and January and February are… going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of our nation,” he said to the New York Times on Dec. 3. After two additional surges of COVID-19 cases within nine months of the pandemic beginning, it is likely that students will not be returning to school until well past the beginning of the second semester, especially when considering the numbers.

“I would really like to be able to go to in person school for even just a little bit of my senior year,” said Buchanan. “I do feel nervous that I won’t happen.”

The recent surges in cases and deaths are due to a wide variety of causes, even setting new records. On Wednesday Dec. 2, the U.S. surpassed its record number of deaths in one day, with over 2,800 deaths according to the New York Times database. Regardless of why these surges are happening, normality will be furthermore postponed for the foreseeable future, at least until vaccines are readily available and widely distributed throughout the population. Until then, it will be a lot of the same things we have been seeing since the spring.

Gyms, movie theaters and other indoor commercial spaces will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Indoor K-12 and college sports are still prohibited. Some outdoor recreation, such as outdoor gym classes, are allowed as long as they involve 50 people or less and follow the already in place social distancing rules.

Small and local businesses are facing the greatest repercussions from these restrictions.

 “A lot of people that are like trying to support their families and are struggling with work. It hurts them the most,” said Buchanan, who works at the local retail store Lucky Me. “Obviously the most like wealthy and privileged members of our society aren’t really harmed by it, but it’s like the essential workers, minimum wage workers, are harmed.”

“My Subway job, which is like a large company, it hasn’t been affected really other than people not being able to eat in the store, but it’s like when it’s a small business like they’re just trying to stay in flow and it’s really really hard for them,” said Buchanan.

The unemployment rate is seeing historically high rates, surpassing those from the Great Recession, and these new restrictions on small businesses and restaurants will make it even harder for those who are looking for jobs and those who wish to maintain the job that they currently have.

Officials hope that the new restrictions will help to slow the spread so that life can return to normal as soon as possible.

Even with new restrictions and rising unemployment rates, the American people are adapting to the “new normal” that’s been presented. With more and more people wearing masks and companies adapting to stay at home orders, America is working hard to slow the spread and keep the public safe, but it’s up to the actions of individuals to follow through with these new restrictions and do their part as well.