Oregon businesses looking for mask guidance from OHA

SALEM, Ore. —Last week the CDC, announced easing indoor and outdoor mask restrictions, for people who’ve been fully vaccinated.  Now Oregon businesses are finding themselves in an uncomfortable position.

Businesses are starting the week off with no new guidance from the Oregon Health Authority. The state told me Monday that they stand by the Governors statement last week, which allows businesses to implement their own regulations.

“We are similarly confused in trying to look through and understand the various masks frameworks,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County Public Health Officer.

Even Oregon’s largest County Public Health Department is lost. Dr. Vines says it isn’t giving direction just yet, regarding mask rules at businesses.

The CDC, easing indoor and outdoor mask restrictions, for people who’ve been fully vaccinated.

Medford resident Andres Fernandez is also confused.

“Feels kinda weird because we don’t know who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t,” said Fernandez.

The Oregon Health Authority is working on new rules for businesses. Oregon’s State Epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger said some businesses will likely require proof of vaccination.

“We would anticipate that an establishment would have to have to have a system in place for asking about vaccine status,” said Dr. Sidelinger.

But what exactly does that look like?

“Right now, I would anticipate that that would be seeing a card with the individual’s name, the vaccines they’ve gotten, and the date and where they’ve gotten them, it could be a picture of it, a record from their provider on their phone,” said Dr. Sidelinger.

It’s commonly called a vaccine passport, but the idea isn’t widely supported.

“I’ve never supported the notion of a vaccine passport, very few people have because it really raises so many other policy questions around enforcement and equity questions,” said Dr. Vines.

And as businesses in Oregon and beyond try to figure out a new path forward, big-name stores like Costco, Walmart, and Trader Joe’s, are already letting people walk in freely without masks.

Businesses in Oregon are free to continue having mask mandates in place if they choose to. We’ll let you know as soon as the OHA announces new rules.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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