Gov. Kate Brown Will Require Face Masks at Many Oregon Businesses

Employees of grocery stores, salons, pharmacies and other places where social distancing cannot be achieved will now have to wear masks. The state is also encouraging businesses to require customers to wear masks.

Outdoor, masked Starbucks service on Northeast Fremont Street. (Brian Burk)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is requiring face masks for employees of grocery stores and pharmacies—as well as other businesses where 6 feet of distance between people may not be possible.

Brown is also encouraging those businesses to require customers to wear masks. And she is encouraging everyone to wear masks indoors.

"I am asking Oregonians to be both kind and smart," she says.

Gov. Brown made the announcement while not wearing a mask. She said she was concerned her voice would be "muffled" and showed off a mask that she wore on her way in.

Masks should also be worn in any indoor location, "especially where 6 feet of physical distancing may not be possible," Brown said.

She announced the mask requirement for various businesses this morning at a press conference detailing her criteria for reopening Oregon for more business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown faces pressure from Republicans, rural counties and suburban mayors—but today she largely stuck to her plan for a gradual, cautious reopening of nonessential businesses.

Brown will allow some rural counties to reopen May 15. She also plans to open summer camps and day care statewide.

Concerts, sporting events with spectators, festivals, fairs and other large gatherings will be canceled through September, and state officials say they won't resume until Oregon has a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19.

"We are not returning to business as usual," says Pat Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority. "We are venturing into unknown territory."

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