Governor: Face Coverings Now Required for Employees at Stores, Restaurants, Other Businesses

Love them or hate them (and seriously, who loves them?), face coverings are going to be with us for a very long time.

Governor Kate Brown released new guidance on Friday, requiring employees to wear face coverings at many of the state’s businesses and commercial operations, including grocery stores, health clubs, pharmacies, public transit providers, personal care providers, restaurants, bars, brewpubs, tasting rooms, retail stores and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

The new guidance requires employees, contractors and volunteers at these operations to wear a mask, face shield or face covering, unless an accommodation for people with disabilities or other exemption applies, and also mandates that the business provide the face coverings for employees.

Transit agencies must also require riders to don face coverings, and provide them if needed, unless the rider is under 2 years of age or has a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing one.

The guidance does not require, but does “strongly recommend” that individuals, including children between 2 and 12 years of age, wear a face covering at all times in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and retail operations. This is in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies for more than a month.

While the effectiveness of such a covering in preventing the user from contracting a viral infection has not been established — indeed, most studies have shown the opposite — public health experts now maintain that they can help slow the spread of Covid-19 when combined with frequent hand washing and social distancing.

At a press conference on Thursday, Governor Brown again wore a face covering bearing the seal of the State of Oregon, which she removed before delivering prepared remarks and answering questions from the press. She described their use as an act of compassion toward others, as well as a form of self-care.

“I think it sends a strong message that you care about other people, and you care about yourself,” she said. “We are all in this together, and we need to continue to be kind and thoughtful toward our neighbors. This Covid-19 pandemic is truly a situation where each one of us can make a difference.”

U.S. Surgeon General on Twitter

Wearing face coverings in most non medical situations isn’t to protect healthy wearers from #COVID19 -it’s to keep people w/ virus from spreading it to others. I wear my face covering to protect you & you wear yours to protect me. We are all in this together! #WednesdayWisdom

As to the use of face coverings, the continued restrictions on large gatherings and guidelines for business practices, she acknowledged the difficulty and the sacrifice.

“This is really, really hard,” she said. “But we know that if we can’t continue to beat back the virus, we’re going to have to institute restriction measures again. And I don’t think any Oregonian wants to go backward. I think we all want to go forward, and it’s up to us.”

Bricks & Minifigs Canby, an independently owned franchise store selling new and used Lego sets, pieces and figurines, reopened to the public on Saturday without requiring employees to wear face coverings — which the owner defended as a matter of personal choice.

Later that day, the president of Bricks & Minifigs said the owner’s comments were not reflective of the company as a whole, and confirmed that franchises are required to follow all federal, state and local guidelines — including those pertaining to Covid-19.

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