Oregon Occupational Safety & Health on Sept. 16 fined two small businesses more than $9,000 each for failing to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

OSHA cited Cafe 22 West in Salem and Howard's Pharmacy in Lakeview, Ore., after complaint-based inspections determined that employees were violating rules regarding face coverings and social distancing, OSHA officials said. Prior to those inspections, OSHA says, both businesses were placed on notice.

At Cafe 22 West, OSHA said the employer refused to implement face covering and social distancing measures that would help protect about 18 employees—including hosts, cooks, cleaners and servers—as well as their customers, from potential COVID-19 exposure.

Because of the employer's refusal to comply, Oregon OSHA posted a red warning notice at the business. Such a notice makes it clear a workplace is unsafe and should not continue operating until corrections are made. Cafe 22 refused to change course even after the notice, OSHA said. OSHA issued a citation on Aug. 18.

This week, OSHA fined the restaurant $13,900—an $8,900 penalty for willful violation of the requirement to provide health hazard controls, and a $5,000 penalty for failing to abide by the red warning notice.

Similarly, Howard's Pharmacy failed to implement mask-wearing guidelines and social distancing measures for its nine employees even after being given a red warning notice a week beforehand, OSHA said. OSHA issued a citation on Sept. 1.

Altogether, OSHA is proposing a total fine of $9,400 for Howard's Pharmacy, including an $8,900 penalty for a willful violation of the requirement to provide health hazard controls and $500 for continuing to operate in violation of the red warning notice. (Howard's Pharmacy received a smaller red warning notice penalty than Cafe 22 because it partially complied with the notice by moving its operations outside. Still, OSHA says, it did not implement face coverings when 6 feet of separation could not be consistently maintained between customers and employees or between employees.)

Michael Wood, an administrator for Oregon OSHA, says that, since the pandemic began, the agency has "engaged in efforts to engage and educate the employers involved about what they needed to do" and that it can usually resolve issues without making an enforcement visit.

"But as these two particular cases demonstrate," Wood said, "we will continue to bring our enforcement tools to bear when employers choose to disregard requirements."

Cafe 22 and Howard's Pharmacy both declined to comment.