Brown mandates face coverings in indoor public spaces

Starting Wednesday, July 1, anybody going into an indoor public space in Oregon will be required to wear a mask.

ONTARIO — As Malheur County businesses reopen, health officials urge vigilance by citizens. In addition to maintaining social distancing, federal, state and local health authorities all encourage the use of face coverings (cloth, paper or disposable) when entering public spaces. In light of that, the Malheur County Health Department has a post which lists local businesses where individuals can purchase masks or materials to make their own. These include Quilting Company of Oregon, Christina Barron at Charmed Needles and Exzacht Sewing; other businesses selling face coverings to the public are encouraged to contact the health department to get listed.

Since community spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has been found in Malheur County, health officials are encouraging people to wear cloth face coverings whenever leaving home and going around other people where a 6-foot physical distance can not be maintained.

“Wearing a face covering shows your support for reopening areas of the economy and public life that have been shut down,” reads the department’s website.

Furthermore, the Oregon Health Authority on Thursday issued new guidelines for businesses and the general public for using face coverings or masks. The guidelines come as businesses in many counties throughout Oregon begin to enter the first phase of reopening today amidst the pandemic.

While businesses have a set of rules to follow regarding masks, face shields or face coverings for employees, the general public, including children ages 2 to 12, are urged to wear coverings when in business settings where it is unlikely a 6-foot physical distance can be maintained.

Details about OHA’s new guidelines follow.

Businesses must:

• Require employees, contractors and volunteers to wear a mask, face shield, or face covering, unless an accommodation for people with disabilities or other exemption applies;

• Provide masks, face shields, or face coverings for employees;

• Develop and comply with policies and procedures that provide for accommodations and exemptions from the mask or face covering requirement for employees and contractors based on: state and federal laws regarding disabilities, labor, public accommodations and public health guidance, where applicable;

• If customers or visitors will be required to wear a face covering, develop a policy and post clear signs about any such requirements. A policy that requires customers and visitors to wear face coverings must: provide exceptions for people with certain health conditions or under the age of 2; take into account that places of public accommodation must make reasonable modifications to allow people with disabilities to access their services; take into account that requiring people to wear face coverings affects people differently including people of color who may have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public; consider whether to provide face coverings for customers or visitors who do not have one; and

• Require employees and contractors to review the business’s policies and procedures related to: employee accommodations and exemptions; and customer and visitor face covering requirements.

• In addition to developing policies and procedures, public transit agencies must require riders must wear face coverings and the company must provide one for a rider who doesn’t have one.

Citizens

• Exceptions for wearing a face covering while riding public transit include being under the age 2; having a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering; or having a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a face covering.

• It is strongly recommended that individuals, including children between 2 and 12 years of age, wear a face covering at all times in settings like grocery stores or pharmacies, where it is likely that physical distancing of at least 6 feet from other individuals outside their family unit cannot be maintained, and vulnerable people must go.

• Because children between the ages of 2 and 12 years of age can have challenges wearing a face covering properly (e.g. not touching the face covering, changing the face covering if visibly soiled, risk of strangulation or suffocation, etc.), the Oregon Health Authority urge that coverings be worn with the assistance and close supervision of an adult. Face coverings should never be worn by children when sleeping.

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