Bend and Deschutes Country continue to handle the COVID-19 pandemic well: Thanks to the measures taken locally and by the state, the county’s cases have been limited to around 600 at this time. However, it’s important to understand current mask requirements, especially for people moving to Bend – to help prevent cases from spiking any further! Let’s take a look at what everyone should know.
Mask Mandates are In Full Effect
Central Oregon is currently in stage 2 of the state’s reopening plan. That means, as of July 24th, face coverings are required for ages 5 and up, both indoors and in outdoor spaces where physical distancing is not required. Capacity for places like gyms or concert halls are reduced to 100 people at this time. Otherwise, everyone should also stay at least six feet away from each other.
Establishments in Bend follow these rules carefully. Restaurants, for example, have reorganized or blocked off their tables to enforce the six-foot for all participants. Plentiful stickers and signs show people where to stand or wait.
The good news for Bend is that summer weather has been particularly fine, and many restaurants and pubs are able to provide spread-out outdoor seating, which offers more space and cuts the risk of spreading the virus in more strictly regulated indoor spaces. This is bound to change as cooler temperatures develop in the fall and winter, but for now Bend’s food, drink, and entertainment scenes remain active.
Fines Do Apply Locally
Disregarding mandates is a bad idea in Bend – the city council has approved a $500 fine for those caught not following mask orders. Additionally, the city has closed public access to city facilities (except the police department lobby).
Hiking and Nature Activities Are Possible, Within Limits
Currently, Bend parks and recreational centers are open, including playgrounds and sports courts (except for basketball courts). Individual centers may have their own requirements for social distancing, and masks may be required.
National forests are also currently open for business, including places like Crater Lake, and there are no strict regulations for hiking or camping in these locations, or the other trails around central Oregon. However, facilities may be limited or closed, which means you will have to take care of all your own trash and use nature as your restroom. People are encouraged to avoid hikes if the trailhead already seems crowded, and to carry out their own waste when possible.
Large Gatherings Aren’t Happening This Year
While online and small social gatherings are common in Bend (regulations say you have to keep them under 10 people), large groups are effectively canceled. That includes all major concerts, any Bend festivals for the foreseeable future, church gatherings, many in-person business events, and similar situations. However, small bands in Bend’s strong underground music scene are still regularly showing up at pubs and restaurants with proper social distancing, so there are ways to enjoy live music!
Be Practical and Safe
Mask regulations and social distancing can help keep the city safe, but common sense also goes a long way. If you see a lot of activity at your favorite taphouse or park, it may be better to come back during off hours instead. Focus on outdoor plazas and beer gardens where transmission is less likely. Follow your favorite organizations and hangs on social media so they can keep you updated on their hours, social distancing measures, and more!