This post will be updated if needed.
Aug. 27, 2021
Following the announcement from Gov. Brown that she will reinstate the statewide mask mandate, effective Aug. 13, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) have published new rules and guidance for indoor public settings. The mandate comes as the COVID-19 Delta variant threatens to overwhelm Oregon’s hospital system.
Following an announcement from Gov. Brown that masks will be required in all public outdoor settings where physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) on Aug. 27 released the accompanying rules for all indoor and outdoor spaces, excluding private homes. Essentially, OHA has amended the indoor mask rule to include outdoor areas.
Here’s what Oregon businesses need to know.
Employers are required to ensure that employees, contractors and volunteers wear face masks and make “reasonable efforts” to ensure that customers, guests, visitors and others comply with the requirement. Employers must post signs at every entrance informing individuals that face masks are required. OHA has produced a sign that employers may use, but you are permitted to use your own sign as long as it clearly states the requirements of the OHA rule.
In the enforcement memo OSHA describes what they will consider as evidence that an employer is making a “reasonable effort” to ensure customers, guests, visitors and others are complying if the employer:
- Ensures employees are wearing face coverings
- If practical, provides a regular audio reminder using existing systems – for example, if a store traditionally makes announcements to customers over an audio system, the face mask requirement should also be provided. If a business does not traditionally have such a system or make announcements over a system, they are not required to do so.
- Does not actively contradict the rule requirements – such as posting signs that undercut the message that masks are required or that suggest the business disagrees with the requirement.
Some modifications to the COVID rules included in the memo:
- Physical distancing is no longer required outside of healthcare workplaces.
- Mask requirements will be back in effect after being repealed on June 30.
- Regular cleaning and sanitization requirements are not being enforced outside of healthcare workplaces.
OHA’s rule provides for a $500 per day per violation against individuals who violate the mask requirement and for businesses who fail to abide by the rules. OSHA also has penalty authority against employers and may assess penalties. However, OSHA will be enforcing on a complaint basis and has said they will give employers a grace period of two weeks to come into compliance before conducting inspections. OSHA’s penalty structure is based on the severity of the violation, the employer’s history of compliance and employer size.
The mask requirement, according to the governor, is an effort to keep schools and businesses open.
On Aug. 19, joined by leaders at the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Dept. of Education, Gov. Kate Brown announced that she has directed all public K-12 teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18, or six weeks after full Federal Drug Administration approval, whichever is later. The governor noted that this latest mandate is an effort to keep schools fully open for in-person learning.
Additionally, by order of Gov. Brown, healthcare workers no longer have the option of “testing out” of their previously announced vaccine mandate. Healthcare workers, as well as all executive branch employees, must be fully vaccinated or face termination.
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