The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, or OLCC, has announced its enforcement staff, along with Oregon OSHA, will “fan out” across the state over the July Fourth holiday weekend to ensure restaurants, bars and other businesses are following the governor’s new mandate requiring customers to wear face coverings indoors whenever they are not seated and eating or drinking.
The announcement comes after the state reported more than 300 new cases of Covid-19 for two straight days — including a record 375 on Thursday.
“We want to make sure our licensees maintain their diligence this holiday weekend and not be complacent,” said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks. “Quite frankly, the health of Oregonians and the ability for bars and restaurants to stay open is dependent on it.”
OLCC and OSHA say their enforcement staff will be conducting “spot checks” to ensure licensed businesses are following the current coronavirus regulations for their counties, which include restrictions on occupancy, hours, party size and distance between tables — along with the new mask mandate.
OLCC says their inspectors will be checking to make sure bars and restaurants are not overcrowded, that customers are not overconsuming and that businesses are closing at the required time.
In the event of a “clear violation” of Oregon law or other OLCC rules, the liquor commission will take administrative action against the licensee, such as fines of the business and server, or even the suspension or revocation of their license to serve. Any violations of social distancing requirements, which lay outside OLCC’s authority, will be reported to Oregon OSHA.
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.
The governor’s mandate follows the recommendations of most public health officials, who say face masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19 from asymptomatic carriers to others, and are an easy way the general public can help protect those most vulnerable.
They have become a point of contention, however, with some refusing to wear them on the grounds that they are ineffective, and that mandated compliance infringes upon their personal rights. Outside of the public health concern, the governor has threatened a devastating new shut-down of businesses if the Covid-19 situation in the state continues to worsen.
“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing,” she said during a press conference this week. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public.”
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.
Exemptions include those with disabilities that render them unable to wear a mask (including cerebral palsy, autism or PTSD), or medical issues that makes it difficult to breathe.
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.