As you have likely heard, effective Friday, August 13, 2021, everyone five years of age or older will be required to wear a mask in all indoor public settings in Oregon, regardless of vaccination status. The requirement excludes people actively eating and drinking in food establishments.
The mask requirement, according to the governor, is an effort to keep schools and businesses open. Governor Brown did not rule out further restrictions such as capacity limits or business closures if the virus continues to spread. Enforcement of the mask mandate will lie with Oregon OSHA. Further details of the Governor’s Order are being finalized and are expected to be released by Friday, August 13, 2021.
The Governor is also requiring executive branch employees to be vaccinated by October 18, 2021, or six weeks after full FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, whichever is later. In announcing the vaccine mandate, the Governor strongly encouraged all public and private employers to require vaccination for their employees.
Before Governor Brown’s announcement, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury announced on Monday, August 9, 2021, that Multnomah County would require face coverings for all people five and older (and two years and older if tolerated) in all public settings.
The Executive Order directed the Multnomah County Health Department to issue guidance requiring the use of face coverings that closely mirrors the October 2020 guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The Health Department has issued guidance and frequently asked questions that provide additional detail for implementation of the mask mandate.
Specifically, persons responsible for indoor spaces or enclosed areas should, but are not required, to provide face coverings for customers and visitors who do not have one. Additionally, such responsible persons are required to:
- Have all employees, contractors, volunteers, students, customers, and other visitors wear a face covering (unless an exception applies);
- Provide face coverings for employees;
- Post public-facing signs about the face covering mandate; and
- Educate employees on how to safely work and communicate with people who cannot wear face coverings and how to provide appropriate accommodations, if needed.
Exceptions when a face covering is not required include:
- While engaged in an activity that makes wearing a face covering impracticable, such as swimming, eating, or drinking;
- When engaged in an activity that only involves members of the same household;
- While receiving personal services where a face covering is impractical, such as dental, beard, and facial services;
- When at a private individual workspace, used by one individual at a time that is enclosed on all sides with floor-to-ceiling walls and a closed door; and
- When at or in a job location that does not require interacting with the public or with other employees (such as a large warehouse) and at least six feet of distance can be maintained between other people.
Nothing in the new orders changes more restrictive or sector-specific rules currently in place or the existing requirement for everyone two years of age or older to wear a mask while on public transportation and in healthcare settings. The County Executive Order could be rescinded if there is a comparable, equally, or more restrictive state mandate.
Businesses and employers should update their policies, practices, and signage to comply with the new requirements and continue to watch for additional details as they become available.
For questions about the new mask mandate or assistance drafting mask or vaccine policies, contact Amy Angel at 503-228-0500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOW, NEXT, & BEYOND: Barran Liebman’s E-Alert series covering the COVID-19 pandemic, helping employers identify what they need to do now, next, and beyond to stay in compliance, be responsive to employees, and best position their business for the future. For past E-Alerts and other COVID-19 resources, visit our “Navigating Coronavirus in the Workplace” page here.
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