The Oregon Health Authority has updated the state’s guidance to protect against the coronavirus, declaring that people no longer need to wear masks outdoors, while those who are fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks in most indoor settings as long as they show proof of vaccination.
The guidance was issued after Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement last week that the state would follow the direction of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The health authority still urges unvaccinated people and those most at risk for the virus to continue wearing masks in crowded areas and large gatherings and maintain physical distance as much as possible.
Everyone is required to continue wearing masks and physically distancing on public transportation and in schools, hospitals, clinics, homeless shelters, correctional facilities and long-term care facilities.
Businesses and other places that choose to lift mask and physical distancing requirements must seek proof of vaccination, whether it be the original paper cards received after vaccination, a photocopy or photo.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state’s top epidemiologist, said businesses can continue requiring employees and customers to wear masks or adopt the new guidance.
“For businesses that think this is too much of an administrative burden or they don’t want to be responsible for checking vaccination records, they don’t have to review those records,” Sidelinger said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “They can continue to serve their customers and have their employees wear masks in these settings.
“For a business that wants to choose to serve their customers in a different way by allowing them to remove their mask if they’re fully vaccinated or have their staff be able to remove their mask if they’re fully vaccinated, they need to institute a system where individuals can share their vaccination status, share their card, which can be reviewed, so that they can be served without a mask or physical distancing.
“Again, businesses have choices and individuals have choices on how to protect themselves and those around them.”
David Reid, the executive director of the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, said most public-facing businesses the chamber has talked with plan to continue requiring customers to wear masks for the time being.
“No one has expressed a desire to request proof of vaccination, especially those who are working with short staffs,” Reid said in an email. “Although this development is good news and a step in the right direction, it’s still confusing for businesses and the public.
“We highly encourage consumers to continue to watch for and comply with whatever precautions a business feels they need to employ regardless of their vaccination status. Kindness and patience are still in order.”
The state plans to lift most virus restrictions once 70% of Oregonians 16 and older receive their first vaccine doses. Counties where 65% of people 16 and older have received at least one dose will have the option of moving to lower risk beginning Friday.
Margo Lalich, Clatsop County’s interim public health director, said she anticipates the county will reach the threshold by the end of the month.
As of Monday, 56.8% of people 16 and older in the county had received at least one dose, according to the health authority.