Changes to Moving Around the City Due to COVID-19

​The City has placed limits on gatherings in City-owned public spaces and use of City facilities. Check the City's COVID-19 information center for all City service impacts.

The City's emergency declaration affects parks, sidewalks and public spaces.  The Salem City Council declared a state of emergency that allows the City to take rapid action in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of its spread throughout the community.

The declaration cites threats to the health and safety of unsheltered residents of the city and increased risk to vulnerable populations of contracting COVID-19 through public gatherings.

In accordance with this direction, the Salem City Council took two actions on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at an emergency meeting:

  1. Placed limits on City Council meeting attendance;
  2. Declared an emergency which impacts public gatherings and allows temporary camping in unimproved areas of Wallace Marine and Cascades Gateway parks.

Questions about moving around the City

How are activities in parks impacted?

See the Parks Changes Due to COVID-19 page for the details about activities in City parks.

What is the limit on public gatherings?

Under the emergency declaration, gatherings of two or more people are banned in or on any public space within the city of Salem, unless a permit for a public gathering has been issued by the Salem Chief of Police. Loitering on public sidewalks and landscape strips is prohibited. Use of public space, including sidewalks, landscape strips, and City parks is limited to active pedestrian use including walking or other human-powered transportation, such as bicycling.

Exceptions include:

  • Individuals experiencing a medical emergency
  • Individuals, as a result of physical disability, who use a wheelchair, walker or similar movement-supporting device for mobility purposes, and their companions or caregivers
  • A child in a stroller or similar movement-supporting device
  • Sitting on a fixed chair or bench on a public sidewalk or in a park
  • Sitting on a public sidewalk at a marked bus stop while waiting for public or private transportation
  • Public safety personnel performing work in the course of their duties
  • People involved in a City-approved or permitted activity

Police will continue to direct people to resources such as the Salem Housing Authority and ARCHES and inform them where the camping restrictions have been temporarily lifted.

Can I walk downtown and in my neighborhood with other people?

Yes. Through the emergency declaration, which is uniformly enforced throughout our community, sidewalks are limited to active pedestrian use including walking or other human-powered transportation, such as bicycling.  Please adhere to social distancing guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Can I sit on a bench?

Yes. Benches are excluded from the emergency declaration. We cannot guarantee how recently the bench was sanitized. Please adhere to social distancing guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Can we use sidewalk cafes?

Right now, restaurants are closed to on-site dining. Sidewalks are considered public spaces and are subject to the guidance in the emergency declaration. Public gathering, any assembly of two or more people remaining in the same area for ten minutes or more, is prohibited. In addition, it is challenging to maintain the recommended six- foot separation in a sidewalk café setting.

Does this apply to gyms, golf courses and malls?

The Governor's Executive Order of March 23, 2020, closed gyms, golf courses and malls.

How will the City enforce these new restrictions on public gatherings?

We take the health and safety of our community seriously. These measures are designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.  We are all in this together and we hope enforcement will not be required. If enforcement is necessary, our efforts will be uniform and focused on mitigating public health risks.

Will I be stopped or will I get a ticket or arrested if I am out walking or driving?

No, you will not be stopped if you are out walking or driving. In Salem, our goal is to provide information and education on the benefits of social distancing and staying home to save lives. We may ask you to voluntarily comply with the Governor's Executive Order. Arrest is a last resort for a flagrant violation the Governor's Order, which is a C Misdemeanor- the lowest level of criminal conduct designation. All Oregon law enforcement are united on the premise that police action is extremely undesirable, and we hope to educate Oregonians if congregating in violation of the Governor's Order. Citation or arrest would be an extreme last resort if a person failed to comply with the lawful direction of a police officer.

Do I need documentation from my employer in order to travel to and from my job?


Should I call police if I see people congregating or not social-distancing in public?

No. Please do not call 911 if you see someone violating the Governor's Executive Order. 

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, has Salem Fire Department changed their response to calls?

We are responding to all calls. Per the Center for Disease Control and Oregon Health Authority guidelines, firefighters have personal protective equipment and may be wearing some of it when they arrive.