: Andrea Johnson

What to Expect at Oregon Destinations During COVID-19

September 17, 2020 (Updated May 24, 2021)

Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Follow all COVID-19 guidelines, get vaccinated before you travel and remember to bring your face covering.

Top Things To Know:

  • Do your research and come prepared
  • Face coverings may be required
  • Physical distancing is expected
  • Extra cleaning protocols are in place
  • Be patient, flexible and kind

With COVID-19 vaccines more widely available, many Oregonians are venturing out to some of their favorite establishments. That means you too may be planning to unwind at a nearby winery, restaurant or resort. Before you head out the door, it’s important to understand Oregon’s Risk and Safety Framework and the state’s guidance by activity so that you know what to expect. 

Not all counties have the same level of risk, so guidelines and restrictions vary depending on where you are. In general, here is what you need to know when planning your outing to a hotel, restaurant or winery.

Two women look at a map of Oregon.
Do your research before going to a destination in Oregon. (Photo by Clayton Cotterell)

Planning Pays Off

It’s a good idea to have an understanding of the changes in place so that you come in with the right expectations and have an enjoyable experience. Some hotels are opting not to reopen all of their amenities or are doing so with limited capacity and enhanced cleaning protocols. This includes pools, gyms and spas. Before visiting a winery, it’s best to call ahead to book an appointment. (Find lots of great info at the Oregon Wine Board’s tasting room reopening directory.) When deciding on a restaurant or lodging facility, look for businesses displaying a Committed to Safety seal in their business or on their website. This designation by the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) indicates that the establishment is in compliance with the best safety practices related to COVID-19. Reservations for timed entry are also becoming more common at indoor attractions, so make sure to call ahead or go online so that you don’t miss out.  

A couple wears face coverings as they walk into a hotel.
Face coverings are required in some indoor spaces. Be prepared by always carrying one with you. (Photo by SaltLine Hotel)

Face Coverings May Be Required

While face coverings are not required outdoors, businesses and attractions across Oregon have the choice to continue requiring visitors to wear a face covering indoors regardless of vaccination status. Some businesses and attractions are instead allowing fully vaccinated visitors to forgo a face covering, though they may require verification of vaccination status. (Note that this is not a HIPAA violation.) Bring proof of your vaccination status and always carry a face covering with you, especially if you’d rather not show your vaccine card. Be flexible and courteous if you’re asked to wear a face covering. 

A masked waiter helps customers at a winery in Oregon.
While Oregon wine country is typically known for being open to walk-in customers, it’s important to plan ahead by making a reservation. (Photo by Josh Chang / Brooks Wine)

Physical Distance is the Standard

If you’ve eaten at a restaurant in recent months, you’ve likely noticed some changes. Tables, for example, are spaced at least 6 feet apart from one another and many establishments have expanded outdoor seating options to adhere to physical-distancing guidelines. At wineries, you may be enjoying your flight at an outdoor bar, having waitstaff pour flights at your table or ordering a pre-poured flight. At some hotels, you’ll find contactless check-ins, which amount to less face time with staff and fewer people in the lobby at any one time.

Enhanced Cleaning Standards Are in Place

As you’re considering your hotel stay, know that staff members are working to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and keep you safe with more stringent cleaning protocols. Before you arrive, staff has worked to meticulously clean every common touchpoint in your room, including light switches, bathroom fixtures and television remotes. Similarly, staff at restaurants and wineries are spending more time disinfecting tables, chairs and menus between customers. All of it may require a little more patience on your part, but keep in mind that it’s for your safety.

A waiter smiles behind a face covering.
Consider showing your appreciation for waitstaff's increased efforts with a generous tip. (Photo by Kathleen Nyberg / McMenamins)

Show Your Appreciation With Kindness and a Tip

Frontline staff members are working harder everywhere, as the job of enforcing face-covering requirements, social distancing standards and other protocols falls on their shoulders — making for some potentially contentious conversations. In some cases, winery staff members are also waiting tables, and hotel receptionists are running keys out to guests in their vehicles. In between check-ins, staff is also meticulously cleaning surfaces like tables, chairs and menus to make sure that each visitor is as safe as possible. At restaurants with fewer tables, waitstaff are earning less money than before. Consider showing your appreciation for all of these frontline workers’ hard work by being kind and patient and leaving a generous tip.

Looking for more? For a visual of what to expect, enjoy the following video from Travel Dundee showcasing the visitor experience with COVID-19 protocols in place.

About The

Emily Gillespie
Emily Gillespie is a travel writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, CNN Travel and Afar magazine. She’s lived in three of Oregon’s seven regions, currently calling Portland home. She and her husband look for every opportunity to hike to a view, bike through wine country and eat their way through a new city.

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