A face mask. File photo: Chas Hundley

OREGON - As Oregon’s COVID-19 cases continue to climb, Governor Kate Brown announced that, beginning Friday, July 24, children five and older will be required to wear face coverings when at indoor public spaces, and at outdoor gatherings where social distancing is impossible. That new rule will also apply to students entering school buildings, and will be outlined further in Oregon Department of Education guidance, which is expected to be released Wednesday. 

Brown noted that existing recommendations for children ages two through four to wear masks would remain in place, but would not be required. It is not advised for children younger than two to wear a mask. 

Brown also said that gatherings at indoor locations, including businesses such as restaurants and at churches and places of worship would be restricted to 100 participants, down from 250. 

Other restrictions also will require those working out at a gym to wear a face covering, even while exercising, and for those counties in Phase 2, will restrict bars and restaurants to a 10 p.m. curfew. 

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Governor Kate Brown held a press conference beginning a few minutes after 11 a.m. with Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon Health Authority state epidemiologist. Flanked by American Sign Language translators, Brown began the conference with a mask on before removing it for the rest of her remarks and thanked those who had been sending her homemade masks. 

“The COVID-19 virus is continuing to spread too quickly across Oregon, so it’s time for further actions to stop the spread of this disease,” Brown said. 

‘Here’s what I want Oregonians to know. I don’t make these decisions lightly, and there are no easy choices,” Brown said after outlining the new rules.  

In the future, Brown said, the county watch list may be updated in the coming days, with the potential for some counties to be removed from the list as their COVID-19 cases slow, while other counties seeing a surge in cases may be added to the list. 

Brown also hinted that travel restrictions from out of state tourists could be coming, and noted that she was working with other states on potential rules surrounding out of state travel. 

Brown also noted the loosening of rules surrounding visitation at long-term care facilities, and said that visitors could see their loved ones outdoors only at facilities where there are no active COVID-19 cases. 

“It still may be possible for us to keep our restaurants and shops open, to gather in groups, to continue to hike, camp, and get out into state parks,” Brown said.  “But it all depends on you. Your choices determine our future. If we don’t slow the spread of the virus, I will have no choice but to force widespread and difficult closures again. We are truly all in this together.”