Amid widespread confusion over the rules governing face masks indoors, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday evening asked business owners to enforce social distancing practices for an additional weekend.
“Yesterday’s @CDCgov announcement left many unanswered questions for states to sort out. Until we have vaccination verification guidance and procedures in place, businesses should continue following current guidance,” Brown wrote on Twitter.
“While @OHAOregon updates guidance, everyone should follow posted mask and physical distancing requirements in businesses this weekend,” she added. “Thank you for looking out for the health and safety of your fellow Oregonians.”
Brown on Thursday suddenly announced that vaccinated people would be allowed to mingle and shop without masks or 6 feet of distance in Oregon businesses, following an equally abrupt recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brown’s declaration signaled an end to pandemic restrictions for anybody who received vaccine doses. But it also raised dozens of logistical questions, including how businesses are supposed to police the behaviors of the unvaccinated, and whether large venues like Moda Center could increase capacity by adding vaccination requirements for some seating.
Brown’s office said it wasn’t prepared to answer those questions Friday, and did not offer a time frame for issuing the new rules.
But Oregon health officials clarified that businesses could not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry into their buildings but must instead create two standards for patrons with vaccinations and those without.
“What we’re not saying is that businesses can choose to only serve vaccinated people and exclude service for others,” Dr. Dean Salinger, the state epidemiologist, told media on Friday.
The CDC announcement that vaccinated people could safely socialize without masks has inspired both delight and consternation.
Across the U.S., many businesses—including some of the nation’s largest grocery chains, like Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Costco—simply abandoned all mask requirements, and are now trusting Americans who don’t believe in vaccines or masks to be honest about whether they have had a vaccine in order to remove their masks.
Oregon businesses will not be allowed to use such an honor system. But that places intense pressure on the same frontline workers who have enforced masks and social distancing for the past year.
In Oregon’s wine country, Yamhill County Chair Casey Kulia said he had met with 75 business owners who expressed alarm at the prospect of policing customers who no longer expect mask rules.
“They are predicting it is going to be a hard weekend, that they are prioritizing staff safety, and that they have no policies for checking vaccination status,” Kulia wrote on Twitter.