Oregon Drops Mask, Distancing Requirements for Fully Vaccinated

Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or physically distance in most public settings in Oregon, following new guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday, which Governor Kate Brown echoed later that day.

The new CDC guidance says those who have been fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

The CDC acknowledged that indoor and outdoor activities pose minimal risk to fully vaccinated people, and that they pose a reduced risk of transmitting Covid-19 to unvaccinated people.

However, though rare, it is possible for a vaccinated person to contract the virus — something known as a “breakthrough case” — so those who test positive or begin experiencing symptoms should still follow quarantine protocols.

After issuing new guidelines this week linking county and business reopening to vaccination rates, while leaving most mask and distancing requirements in place, Brown announced late Thursday that Oregon would follow suit with the CDC.

“It is yet another sign that, if we all continue to do our part, the pandemic is coming closer to an end,” Brown said in a video statement. “Starting today, Oregon will be following this guidance, which only applies to fully vaccinated individuals,” Brown said in a video statement.”

There are a few exceptions where masks and distancing will still be required, even for the fully vaccinated, including public transportation, hospitals and health care clinics, correctional facilities and long-term care facilities.

The new guidance also does not apply to schools, Brown said.

“Nothing is changing for schools this school year, and I expect education staff and students to continue to wear masks and physically distance, as outlined in our Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance,” she said.

Those with compromised immune systems or increased risk factors should follow the recommendations of their health care provider when it comes to personal protective measures.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will be updating its guidance to provide employers with greater flexibility to cut back on masking and physical distancing requirements for fully vaccinated employees, Brown added.

However, it is not required that all businesses adopt new masking and physical distancing policies.

“Some businesses may prefer to simply continue operating under the current guidance for now, rather than worrying about verifying vaccination status, and that’s fine,” Brown said.

The new CDC guidance gives Oregonians a choice of how to protect themselves and others from Covid-19, Brown said: either get vaccinated, or continue wearing a mask and following physical distancing requirements.

“The new CDC guidance makes clear that vaccines are the best tool to protect yourself, and everyone around you,” Brown said. “Vaccines are also the fastest way to get back to doing the things we all love, and to returning to a sense of normalcy.”

For information about Covid-19 vaccination clinics and availability in Clackamas County, visit clackamas.us/coronavirus/vaccine, call 211 or email questions to COVIDVaccine@clackamas.us.

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