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Oregon Health Authority Orders New Statewide Face Covering Guidance

As COVID-19 continues to impact our daily lives, Governor Kate Brown has authorized the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to create new guidance on masks, face coverings and face shields (collectively referred to as “face coverings”). On August 13, 2020, masks, face shields, and face coverings became required statewide for offices and indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing is not possible.

All patrons (employees, contractors, volunteers, customers and visitors) of a business, indoor public space or outdoor public space are now required to wear a mask, face shield or face covering at all times, with the following exceptions:

  • For employees, contractors and volunteers, face coverings are not required when at or in a location where the employee, contractor or volunteer does not have a job that requires interacting with the public and at least six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals. In areas where six feet of distance cannot be maintained, face coverings are still required.
  • Face coverings are not required while eating or drinking.
  • Face coverings are not required when engaged in an activity that makes wearing one not feasible. The example provided by the Oregon Health Authority is swimming.

Additionally, businesses are required to provide masks, face shields or face coverings for employees and to accommodate employees, contractors, customers and visitors when accommodations are required by the ADA, labor laws at the state or federal level, public accommodations laws at the state or federal level and applicable OHA public health guidance. Businesses are also required to post clear signs about the face covering requirements.

The OHA also recommends but does not require that such entities provide face coverings for customers and visitors who do not have one at no cost to the customers and visitors, to post signs about the requirements in languages commonly spoken by customers and visitors, and to educate employees on how to safely work and communicate with people who need to read lips or facial expressions to communicate through the use of transparent face coverings.

Face coverings are required at all times for employees in hallways, bathrooms, elevators, lobbies, break rooms, and other common spaces in both public and private office spaces. If an individual workspace or meeting room allows for the maintenance of a consistent six feet of distance between people, individuals can remove their face covering in those areas.

All individuals who visit a business or a public space are required to wear a mask, face shield or face covering unless they are under five years of age with the following exceptions:

  • Face coverings are not required while eating or drinking
  • Face coverings are not required when engaged in an activity that makes wearing a mask not feasible, such as when swimming.
  • Face coverings can be briefly removed where an individual needs to confirm their identity by visual comparison, such as at a bank or when interacting with law enforcement.

If an individual has a medical condition or disability that makes it hard to breathe or wear a mask, they can request an accommodation from a business or public space operator to enable full and equal access to the services, transportation and facilities open to the public.

As these unprecedented times continue to unfold, we must all do our part to follow state guidance and reduce the spread of COVID-19. More information and OHA Guidance can be found here.

A civil litigator with an impressive local and international history, Timothy Resch helps employers and small businesses find success in federal and state court litigation matters.

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