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Oregon OSHA Will Enforce Mask Rules

Governor sounds urgent warning as cases rise: “What happens next is up to all of us.”

As Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's statewide mask requirement goes into effect July 1, it includes something she's been reluctant to discuss: enforcement.

Brown's office says she's assigned Oregon Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Oregon OSHA, to ensure businesses require anyone who steps inside to don a face covering.

"If businesses do not implement these requirements, OSHA and other relevant agencies, such as Oregon Liquor Control Commission or the Health Licensing Office, can and will take enforcement action," Brown spokesman Charles Boyle tells WW.

Brown announced June 27 she would penalize businesses that didn't enforce the rules—a change from her previous stance, educating people about masks' benefits rather than forcing them to comply.

By assigning state agencies to enforce her order, though, the governor avoids the politically dicey prospect of police detaining or citing people not wearing masks.

On June 30, Brown extended Oregon's state of emergency—the legal basis for executive orders—an additional 60 days, saying the state had reached a "crossroads" where it could control the virus or be overwhelmed by new cases.

Her statements Tuesday contained an unusual note of urgency, as cases spike in Oregon and reach all-time highs in other states, including California.

"We have a chance, now, before the Fourth of July weekend, to make sure that Oregon's COVID-19 numbers don't follow the same skyrocketing trajectory of states like Texas or Florida or Arizona," Brown said. "Oregon, you have a choice. You can help to save lives again. What happens next is up to all of us."

Oregon saw another 181 new cases Tuesday, including 38 in Multnomah County.