Masks Now Required Indoors Statewide in Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown makes new order, threatens to roll back reopening if people don't wear masks

Screenshot from Press Briefing with Gov. Kate Brown, June 18, 2020.

Gov. Kate Brown announced on Monday, June 29, that all Oregonians are required to wear masks or other face coverings while in indoor public spaces starting July 1. Her order follows a general upward trend of COVID-19 positive tests locally, statewide and across the U.S.

Earlier in June, Brown required some counties to have mandatory mask-wearing while indoors. Lane County was left off the list because it didn’t have the cases to require such a rule, a spokesperson from the governor’s office told Eugene Weekly when Brown enacted the mask requirement in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Marion, Polk, Hood River and Lincoln counties.

“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing,” Brown said in a statement. “If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face-covering when out in public.”

Brown’s order follows Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s implementation on June 23 and California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s on June 18.

According to the press statement, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) will take the lead in enforcing the order and will work with other state and local agencies.

The governor’s office tells EW that OSHA will communicate with businesses about best practices on face masking. If businesses don’t comply, OSHA and other relevant agencies (like OLCC) “can and will take enforcement action.”

Businesses are in charge of requiring employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, and/or visitors to wear a form of face-covering inside its public space, the governor’s office adds. Face coverings aren’t required in restaurants and bars while eating or drinking — or while swimming at a pool.

Individuals and businesses alike are subject to the statewide face-covering mandate. Oregon OSHA will be communicating with businesses as to best practices for implementing face-covering requirements and OSHA will enforce these requirements when businesses don’t comply. If businesses do not implement these requirements, OSHA and other relevant agencies, such as OLCC or the Health Licensing Office, can and will take enforcement action.

Recently, Lane County has seen an increase of COVID-19 positive cases, especially in residents in their 20s. During the week of June 22 to 26, the county logged 26 positive cases. But the county says the spike of cases isn’t because of the ongoing protests. On June 29, the county announced 15 new cases, making the total 130 positives.

According to the Oregon Health Authority’s latest weekly update on COVID-19, the zip codes of 97401 and 97402 and the most cases in the county, with 19 and 25 positives tests, respectively.

Because of Memorial Day-related events, positive tests increased in Oregon, so Brown is reminding residents to stay safe for the Fourth of July.

“Please keep your Fourth of July celebrations small and local,” she said. “We saw a lot of new COVID-19 cases following the Memorial Day holiday. Another spike in cases after the upcoming holiday weekend could put Oregon in a dangerous position.”