Head of state re-opening Wednesday, county leaders unsure of removing COVID restrictions

JACKSON CO., Ore. — Oregon is set to re-open tomorrow, but locally, county leaders are hesitant to make changes to COVID restrictions since rules from OSHA still remain in place.

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health tells me COVID restrictions such as face masks and social distancing will no longer be enforced starting tomorrow.

However, a lack of communication with county leaders may set back the restrictions from lifting in some places.

“OSHA, they’re separate from the governor’s orders, so previously they said they’re going to enforce in-line with their orders however, they have not put anything out so far related to the recent announcement of the June 30th opening,” said County Administrator, Danny Jordan.

Jackson County leaders were feeling frustrated in their Tuesday morning meeting.

Jordan, in discussion with county commissioners, says getting rid of COVID restrictions could carry a fine, if there’s no guidance from the state that comes with it.

“Here we are, the governor says we’re going back to normal on Wednesday, but then we have a state agency that has these rules in place that can actually be punitive in many ways including financial,” said Jordan.

Commissioners decided during the meeting to write OSHA in hopes of getting the rules rescinded so the county can slowly move back into pre-pandemic life.

“I’m going to send a correspondence to OSHA requesting that they again do something with this, one of the reasons the government announced this is maybe to insert some certainty into the process especially for the businesses who need time to prepare and have been the most affected,” said Commissioner Rick Dyer.

I reached out to an OSHA spokesperson, Aaron Corvin, who tells me these restrictions are, indeed, going away.

“We’re going to lift, remove, the facial covering and physical distancing requirements.”

When asked why OSHA has taken over 2 weeks to notify county leaders of this switch, Corvin says OSHA is trying to get the word out the best it can.

“We are developing some key messages that I believe we are rolling out today, on you know, the next steps, re-opening from the Oregon OSHA side. We’re trying to build those messages and get them out to as many folks as we can,” said Corvin.

When we told County Commissioner Dave Dotterrer this news, he gave us a statement saying, “It would’ve been nice if they issued guidelines quicker, at least 48 hours, mostly for businesses sake and stability.”

Jackson County Commissioners are meeting again tomorrow.

Commissioner Dotterrer says he is unsure if they’ll discuss removing COVID restrictions in the county or not, since they have still yet to hear directly from OSHA.

Private businesses are allowed to come up with their own rules regarding COVID restrictions.

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Mariah Mills
NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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