Governor of Oregon Kate Brown issued a state-wide Executive Order No. 20-12 on March 23, 2020, directing Oregonians to stay at home unless engaging in certain activities or working at certain businesses. The order is effective immediately and remains in effect until ended by the Governor. Violators may be subject to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250, or both. The following update summarizes the types of businesses that must close and clarifies construction as an exempt activity that is allowed to continue.

Closure of Certain Businesses

The order includes a prohibition on the operation of specified non-essential businesses. The order does not define what essential businesses are, but specifically lists businesses that must close indefinitely. The following businesses that must close, include:

Amusement parks; aquariums; arcades; art galleries (to the extent that they are open without appointment); barber shops and hair salons; bowling alleys; cosmetic stores; dance studios; esthetician practices; fraternal organization facilities; furniture stores; gyms and fitness studios (including climbing gyms); hookah bars; indoor and outdoor malls (i.e., all portions of a retail complex containing stores and restaurants in a single area); indoor party places (including jumping gyms and laser tag); jewelry shops and boutiques (unless they provide goods exclusively through pick-up or delivery service); medical spas, facial spas, day spas, and non-medical massage therapy services; museums; nail and tanning salons; non-tribal card rooms; skating rinks; senior activity centers; ski resorts; social and private clubs; tattoo/piercing parlors; tennis clubs; theaters; yoga studios; and youth clubs.

The order does not apply to restaurants, bars, and other similar establishments that offer food or drink, provided such establishments do not provide on-site consumption. Additionally, indoor and outdoor malls, and other businesses subject to the above list are not prohibited from operating to provide food, grocery, health care, medical, pharmacy, or pet store services.

Construction Projects May Continue

The order does not affect most construction projects, including residential construction. Based upon the plain meaning of the order, any business may continue to operate if the business is not listed as required to close. The order further requires offices to facilitate remote working when possible, and to designate an employee or officer to establish, implement, and enforce social distancing policies consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority when remote working is not possible. 

Construction is not a form of business listed in the order required to close, nor is remote working possible for construction to continue. Construction projects therefore may continue to operate, and construction personnel are exempt from the “stay home, save lives” order. To avoid doubt, the governor issued a news release stating construction activities may continue and, as with any operating business during this “stay home, save lives” order, “must ensure that their employees are maintaining social-distancing measures.”[1] It is prudent for contractors to adopt policies consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and appoint personnel for its enforcement.


[1] State of Oregon Office of the Governor Kate Brown, Updated orders for individuals, businesses, public organizations, and outdoor spaces to prevent COVID-19 spread, News Release (Mar. 23, 2020), https://mailchi.mp/oregon/news-releasegovernor-kate-brown-tightens-social-distancing-measures-tells-oregonians-to-stay-home-save-lives?e=d8ab860029.

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