Oregonians statewide will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, Governor Kate Brown announced today, beginning Wednesday, July 1.
The guidance applies to businesses and members of the public visiting indoor public spaces. A similar face covering mandate took effect in seven counties last week, including Clackamas.
“Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties,” said Governor Brown. “The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference.”
The governor’s position is in line with the recommendations of most public health officials, who say face masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19 from asymptomatic carriers to others.
“Face coverings that cover your nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of this disease because droplets from our breath can carry the virus to others without us realizing it,” the governor said. “The choices every single one of us make in the coming days matter.”
Oregon, like many other states and the country as a whole, has seen a resurgence in new cases of Covid-19 this month, as most states began a gradual reopening.
Canby’s case count has more than tripled in June, though much of that was driven by a single large outbreak at the Marquis Hope Village Post-Acute Rehab center.
While the governor declined to enforce her mask mandate during the initial roll-out — while nevertheless maintaining that it had the force of law and was enforceable — in Monday’s announcement, she threatened the ultimate “stick”: a new shut-down of businesses and services that would likely be even more devastating than the first go-round.
“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing,” she said. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public.”
There will be enforcement of this statewide mandate, Brown said, of which the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) will take the lead, along with other state and local agencies.
She asked Oregonians to keep their Fourth of July celebrations this weekend “small and local.”
“Oregonians have all made incredible sacrifices over the last several months that have saved thousands of lives,” she said. “The actions we take now can protect our friends, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Oregonians from this disease, and prevent the need for another statewide shutdown. We are truly all in this together.”
The requirement applies to most businesses, including grocery stores, gyms and fitness studios, pharmacies, public transit agencies, personal services providers like hair and nail salons, restaurants and bars, retail stores, shopping malls and ride-sharing services.
If you or a loved one has a disability that renders you unable to wear a face covering (including cerebral palsy, autism or PTSD), or a medical issue that makes it difficult to breathe, you do not have to wear a face covering.
Children under 12 are also exempt, though it is still strongly recommended that they wear a mask if they can. Kids 2 and under, however, should never wear a mask.