Oregon mask mandate rolls out July 1

MEDFORD, Ore.– Starting Wednesday, Oregonians will be required to wear face masks when going in indoor public areas.

The order comes from Governor Kate Brown as Oregon cases surged in the last two weeks. However, businesses and individuals are still being left to their own discretion on whether masks will be enforced or worn when going out.

“We’re hoping that people will do the right thing and work together to keep the community safe,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County Public Health.

The statewide mask requirements for Oregon will kick off on July 1. Oregonians will be required to wear masks in a variety of public locations like grocery stores, restaurants, or bars.

While some may say the order is unconstitutional, in the midst of a pandemic that’s not true. In an article written by the Poynter Institute, governments have the authority to enforce in emergencies like a pandemic since it threatens the safety of the public.

Those with certain disabilities or health reasons may be exempt.

“Under the circumstances, the benefit to society, the benefit to others is pretty great and the inconvenience to that individual is tiny,” said Dr. Shames.

The order from Governor Brown is asking every resident to wear a mask. Rather than being forced to shut down businesses again, this option – if everyone cooperates – could keep things running.

“It’s a starting point, it’s a foundation, it’s the rules,” said Dr. Shames. “These are the new rules and I think we’re going to see how well they are adhered to.”

Enforcement of masks is overseen by OSHA but that doesn’t mean every individual will cooperate. OSHA, after all, only oversees occupational health and safety.

The agency is receiving reports of any violations by businesses however the current complaint workload, more than three years work in three months, has them backed up.

Guidance to businesses on how to approach people who aren’t wearing masks in their establishment has been distributed.

Local counties say there will be no local enforcement on individuals who don’t wear a mask in public spaces.

Numerous studies have shown wearing masks slows the spread of the virus.

With the July 4 holiday coming up, health officials are concerned about the enormous threat it might pose if people don’t take precautions.

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