Oregonians living in the most of the state's largest counties will be expected to wear masks in nearly every indoor space where they might encounter strangers, says a policy issued by Gov. Kate Brown today. Those places range from tattoo shops to massage businesses, and from indoor swimming pools to Ubers.
The detailed rules, issued by Brown this morning, also mandate masks in restaurants and bars, but not when patrons are eating and drinking.
The mask rule goes into effect Wednesday, June 24—five days after Multnomah County reopens today from the governor's stay-home orders. It will apply to the state's largest population centers: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion and Polk counties. (Although Hood River, Lincoln and Polk are not among the state's largest counties, all have experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks.)
But several key questions about the mask rule remain unresolved. The logistics of when diners can remove masks are not specified: when they take a seat at a table? When they have food or beverage in their hands?
Perhaps more importantly, the guidelines do not mention how counties are expected to enforce the policy. Brown has said she will not fine or cite people who don't wear masks. In past orders, the state has issued warnings and fines to businesses that don't make people follow social distancing rules, but Brown hasn't said whether that will be expected with the mask mandate.
Multnomah County officials today said they had not received any guidance from the governor's office on how the policy should be enforced.
Brown's spokesman Charles Boyle responded to questions from WW about enforcement by saying the state preferred to educate people, rather than punish a lack of compliance.
"Under the governor's executive orders, businesses and individuals not following this guidance could be subject to penalties," Boyle said, "but, in order to best protect Oregonians from the spread of this disease, our focus is on education and seeking voluntary and widespread compliance to the greatest extent possible."
When WW asked if the governor would issue guidelines to counties about enforcement, Boyle replied: "Our focus right now is on giving guidance to businesses on implementation and on public outreach and education."
The rules issued today give a more specific list of places where masks will be required next week. Those places include grocery stores, spas, gyms, hair and nail salons, malls, all retail stores, hailed-ride cars like Uber and Lyft, tanning and tattoo parlors, breweries and distilleries.
The policy offers some limited exceptions. "Masks, face shields or face coverings are not required," it says, "when at a business and engaged in an activity that makes wearing a mask, face shield or face covering not feasible, such as strenuous physical exercise, singing or playing an instrument if at least 6 feet of distance is maintained from others."
It requires all stores, restaurants and venues to provide masks free of charge to employees. It suggests that establishments provide free masks to customers, but doesn't require it.