Baker County Commissioner Mark Bennett said county officials continue to work on a proposal for further easing restrictions on public gatherings and other activities in the county so long as confirmed cases of coronavirus remain few.

Bennett, who is the county’s incident commander during the pandemic, said there is no timeline for submitting the county’s plan to Gov. Kate Brown.

Bennett said Monday that the governor’s announcement last week of a one-week pause in processing counties’ reopening applications, and the outbreak of COVID-19 in neighboring Union County, both are reasons “to proceed slowly.”

“We realize a pause is probably appropriate,” Bennett said.

Bennett also noted that Malheur County, which borders Baker County to the south, has had 38 cases.

Baker County, as of Tuesday, had still had only one confirmed case of the virus, reported on May 6. A total of 353 people have been tested in the county.

Baker County, along with Union and Malheur counties, have been in phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan since the first weekend in June. State officials have said they don’t expect any county to move into the third phase, which likely would remove all restrictions, for several months.

However, Bennett said he believes there’s a “middle ground” for counties with no outbreaks.

Baker County officials are still discussing details, but the county’s proposal could include allowing larger gatherings so long as social distancing can be maintained, and potentially changing the current recommendation of 6 feet of space between people to perhaps 3 feet, Bennett said.

Under phase 2 the limit for indoor events is 50 people and 100 for outdoor events, although some gatherings, including church services and restaurants, whether indoor or outdoor, and outdoor entertainment, can have up to 250 people if the space allows for 6-foot distancing.

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