Oregon Health Authority lifts outdoor mask requirement

Effective Tuesday afternoon, people in Oregon no longer have to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The announcement was made by the Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday afternoon.

MALHEUR COUNTY — First it was bringing back the mandate of wearing masks in public indoor settings where physical distancing is not possible. Now, Gov. Kate Brown has extended that regulation, beginning Friday, to outdoor public settings, including large gatherings where the required distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is not possible. Vaccination status is not an issue, according to her news release.

The Oregon Health Authority is also urging people to mask up at their private outdoor gatherings.

“The Delta variant is spreading fast and wild, throwing our state into a level or crisis we have not see in the pandemic. Cases and hospitalizations are at a record high,” said Brown in her statement. “Masks are a quick and simple tool we can immediately deploy to protect ourselves and our families and quickly help stop further spread of COVID-19.”

The OHA rule requires masks for all individuals, regardless of vaccinations, where people from different households are not able to maintain physical distance.

The rule does apply to chance encounters, such as people walking past each other on a sidewalk or on a trail.

The rule does not apply to children under age 5; people eating, drinking or sleeping; people living outdoors; and people playing or practicing competitive sports. K through 12 schools will fall under the school mask rules for daily operations.

However, outside public events, such as spectator sports and gatherings of the general public on school grounds will be subject to the new rule.

Asked for a response, Nyssa School Superintendent Darren Johnson said in an email, “We have sent out reminders to all families and employees in the district that face coverings are required. We are allowing people to wear a face shield if they have a medical need. Students are reminded and encouraged to wear face coverings.”

In Malheur County, COVID cases continue to grow week after week , with 113 cases recorded in the week ending Aug. 20.

“This is a frustrating situation for everyone said Angie Sillonis, new public information officer for Malheur County Health Department. “There are steps we can all take to stop the spread of this spread of this virus. The first is to avoid large gatherings, the second is to wear masks when we’re around other people, and the third is to get vaccinated.”

Sillonis said currently, 40% of eligible Malheur County residents are vaccinated for COVID.

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