MARION COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - With news that Marion County will move from Extreme to High Risk, business owners are preparing for the changes that will come to the large Oregon county.

Restaurants, gyms and indoor recreation facilities will now be allowed to allow people inside, up to 25% or 50 people, whichever is smaller.

For months, restaurant owners in the Extreme Risk category have had to rely on to-go orders only, or outdoor dining. Business owners say they are excited to finally allow people back inside.

Marion County restaurants prepare for looser restrictions in High Risk category

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“We’re excited to, in a very safe manner, bring people back inside. We have air scrubbers, as you can hear, they’re right behind me, and plexiglass and all that good stuff,” said Riley Vannoy, co-owner of the Noble Wave downtown.

Vannoy says his employees are getting ready for Friday, though he doesn’t expect to have to change too much.

“It’s kind of going back to operations that we did in the summertime. Not a whole lot of changes,” he said.

The Noble Wave had only been in business less than a year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He says there has been a lot of change since opening their doors.

“We’ve had to completely transform our business into a to-go model. It’s been a lot of struggles, a lot of hard work, a lot of flexibility from our great staff,” said Vannoy.

Other restaurant owners, like Mike Ritter of Ritter’s, say they have been preparing for this weekend for a while.

“We’ve been expecting this and working and preparing for it, so we won’t be at a mad scramble, we’ll be ready to roll,” Ritter said.

Diners also say they are ready to get back indoors and see things moving in a positive direction.

“I think the ambiance of being able to be indoors and around creative people that are expressing their art is something I miss dearly, and I can’t wait,” said Lissie Thomas, who was dining outside at Noble Wave Tuesday.

While there is no way to know what will happen Friday, Ritter says when it comes to guests, he expects a full house.

“This community is such a supportive community and we will have people come out just to show their support and so I believe we will be busy,” said Ritter.

Business owners say they just hope that community members continue to follow safety protocols and COVID-19 numbers continue to decline around Oregon.

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