Business, CORONAVIRUS, Washington County

Mandatory mask memo made clear

A face mask. File photo: Chas Hundley

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Good news, everyone. You won’t have to keep your mask on while attempting to eat at your favorite restaurant. 

New guidance issued Friday by Governor Kate Brown’s office from the Oregon Health Authority clarifies the mandatory mask memo made Wednesday, which, among other items, noted that the general public would be required to wear a mask in most indoor businesses. 

Under the rules, businesses must require that their employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, and visitors wear a face covering of some sort.

“As we learn more about COVID-19, evidence continues to mount that face coverings play a critical role in reducing transmission,” said Governor Brown. “We have to live with this disease for a while. And that is going to require adjusting our habits––taking the simple step of covering our nose and mouth in spaces where we interact with others.”

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“We wear face coverings to protect the doctors and nurses working day and night in hospitals and clinics around the state. We wear them to protect our elderly neighbors. We wear them to protect kids in cancer treatment and people with compromised immune systems. We wear them to protect the grocery store clerk and the pizza delivery gal. We wear them because we don’t want to accidentally kill someone.

“It’s really that simple. Face coverings save lives.”

The full guidance document can be found here.

Here’s what we know with the additional guidance issued by Brown’s office today:

— The order is effective Wednesday, June 24

— The order applies to the following counties: Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Hood River, and Lincoln Counties.

— Homemade face coverings, store bought masks, a bandanna — as long as the mouth and nose are covered — are acceptable

— Children under the age of 2 may not wear a face covering

— Children between 2 and 12 years of age are not required to wear a face covering, though the state encourages it, especially in areas where those at higher risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19 visit, such as a pharmacy.

— Those with a medical condition that makes breathing difficult are not required to wear a face covering, and the same applies to those with a disability that would prevent one from wearing a face covering. 

— You must wear a face covering at the following businesses:

— Grocery stores

— Fitness-related organizations such as a gym (exceptions to wearing a face covering include while doing strenuous physical activity)

— Pharmacies

— On public transit and while using ride-sharing services such as Lyft or Uber

— Restaurants, bars, breweries, brewpubs, wineries, tasting room and distilleries (while you are actively eating or drinking, you do not need to wear a mask, per the new guidance)

— Personal service providers such as salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, spas, and massage therapy service locations. 

— Retail stores, shopping centers and malls. 

For counties in Phase 2, face coverings must also be worn while at (though not in) a licensed indoor swimming pool, spa pool, or sports court operator, and at indoor entertainment venues, recreational sports facilities, and indoor venues. 

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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