Oregon Health Authority director Pat Allen announced the state has lifted its requirement that Oregonians wear masks outdoors, effective Nov. 23. The change comes as Oregon COVID-19 cases have fallen from a summer surge of the Delta variant.
Oregon was the only state in the country to still have a statewide outdoor mask mandate. It remains one of five states with indoor mask mandates regardless of vaccination status.
OHA officials declined to enumerate the set of circumstances under which they would end the indoor mandate, saying circumstances had to change, including fewer hospitalizations. But given several chances to list specifics, they declined, citing the uncertain nature of the pandemic, which could see positive developments, such as federal approval of a pill to fight COVID-19, or emerging dangers, such as new variants.
“We don’t have an exact number,” says Allen. “I want to be clear, it’s not like we have an exact number that we’re keeping secret in OHA and not telling people.”
The agency still recommends wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings.