Governor tightens social distancing measures with new executive order

New orders apply to individuals, businesses, public organizations and outdoor spaces to prevent COVID-19 spread 

March 23, 11:15 a.m. — Governor Kate Brown today issued Executive Order 20-12, directing everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible and adding to the list of businesses that will be temporarily closed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. The order is effective immediately and remains in effect until ended by the Governor.

“We are learning more about this virus and how people react to it every day. Not just from a medical standpoint, but from a social and behavioral standpoint,” Brown said. “I started by asking Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing. Then I urged the public to follow these recommendations. Instead, thousands crowded the beaches of our coastal communities, our trails, our parks and our city streets — potentially spreading COVID-19 and endangering the lives of others across the state. Now, I’m ordering it. To save lives and protect our community.”

Today (March 23), the governor issued her latest executive order, which further requires social distancing measures. Brown said it is the most effective way to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 virus. 

“Staying home both keeps you safe from infection and ensures you do not unknowingly infect others,” said Brown, who had already enacted a number of measures specifically aimed at increasing hospital capacity, such as cutting down on non-emergency care to conserve masks, gloves and gowns. “None of us have ever been through this before, and that means there is no way to know exactly what lies ahead. We don’t know yet when this outbreak will end, or what changes this will bring for our state and for our country. But I want to make sure that we’ve done all we can to end it as quickly as possible.”

Impact from today’s executive order include the following, effective immediately:  

  • Prohibiting all non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals — regardless of size — if a distance of at least 6 feet between individuals cannot be maintained. Gatherings of members of the same residential household are permitted.
  • Closure and prohibiting of shopping at specific categories of retail businesses for which close personal contact is difficult to avoid. This includes businesses such as arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, theaters and yoga studios.
  • A requirement that businesses not closed by the order implement social distancing policies in order to remain open. It also requires workplaces to implement teleworking and work-at-home options when possible.
  • A directive that all Oregonians to stay home whenever possible. At the same time, the order allows activities outside the home when social distance is maintained.
  • Closure of all playgrounds, sports courts and skate parks, among other types of outdoor recreation facilities. Those that remain open are required to strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • The adoption of new guidelines for childcare facilities, including setting limits and rules on the number of children allowed in care. It also disallows childcare groups to change participants.
  • Enforcement of the executive order to include anyone not in compliance be considered an immediate danger to public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor.

Brown said the distinction from closing all businesses except for those categorized as essential as mandated in other states aims to minimize unintended consequences and add clarity for businesses who can adjust their business models to accommodate vital social distancing measures.

“This order is designed to flatten the curve over the coming weeks, preserving scarce hospital space and equipment. It will also ensure that any place of business that remains operational does its part to enforce social distancing rules,” said Brown. “It is designed to be more sustainable over time, to allow Oregonians to keep their jobs when their work does not add to the growth of COVID-19 in Oregon.”

Specific retail businesses closed by Executive Order 20-12 include: 

  • Shopping: Outdoor and indoor malls and retail complexes, although individual types of businesses not subject to the measures may stay open.
  • Fitness: Gyms, sports and fitness centers, health clubs and exercise studios
  • Grooming: Barbershops, beauty and nail salons and non-medical wellness spas
  • Entertainment: Theaters, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys and pool halls

Full details on all businesses listed in Executive Order 20-12 are available online at:

In addition to businesses, Executive Order 20-12 also orders state executive branch offices and buildings to close to the public and provide public services by phone to the extent possible. When public services require in-person interactions, the order requires social distancing measures to be implemented and enforced. State agencies must also facilitate telework and work-at-home for state employees whenever possible. While the order does not apply to local, federal or tribal governments, Brown strongly encouraged those governments to follow these directives.

The order also directs state agencies to close parks and other outdoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained – –expanding on actions already taken by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

All coronavirus executive orders will be posted on the Oregon Coronavirus Information and Resources Page after they have been issued and signed.


More In Coronavirus