Oregon lifts some restrictions on masks, distancing for those vaccinated

May 26, 2021 — On May 18, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released updated guidance about mask and physical distancing requirements for individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This update comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement that individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could stop wearing masks and physical distancing in most public spaces.

According to OHA, people in Oregon who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a mask indoors in most public settings where vaccination status is checked. In public settings where vaccination status is not checked, masks will still be required. Businesses and venue operators remain free to establish their own, more restrictive policies regarding mask usage.

“Recent news about the change in mask requirements for those who are vaccinated has left consumers, employees and businesses equally confused,” announced the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce in a newsletter sent last week. “OHA business guidelines are now available, however, it adds additional responsibilities on businesses to check vaccine cards if they want to allow customers to go mask-free. We are looking at sending out the PSA that we used last year, which encourages patience, thoughtfulness and showing respect.”

The new guidance applies to people who are fully vaccinated.

OHA’s COVID-19 Dashboard shows that vaccinations are continuing to increase across the state.

According to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said, “Vaccines protect you, and they protect everyone around you. It’s going to take all of us working together to make sure enough Oregonians are vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and end this pandemic.”

On May 11, Brown announced that counties that vaccinate at least 65% of their residents 16 or older with at least one dose and submit documentation on how they will close equity gaps in their vaccination efforts are eligible to move to the lower risk level of community spread of COVID-19.

On May 21, five counties were able to shift to this lower risk after vaccination efforts, including Benton, Deschutes, Hood River, Lincoln and Washington counties.

When Oregon achieves a first dose 70% statewide vaccination rate for residents 16 or older, according to the OHA, the state will lift all risk level health and safety restrictions. Some restrictions based on CDC guidance for use of masks and physical distancing may remain in place.

To increase vaccinations, Brown has announced two separate motivators. The first is a $1 Million “Take Your Shot Oregon” Vaccination Campaign, where all vaccinated Oregonians 12 and older are eligible for cash prizes or scholarships.

Oregonians 18 and older will have the chance to win $1 million or one of 36 $10,000 prizes, with one winner in each county in Oregon. Oregonians age 12 to 17 will have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships. All Oregonians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the draw date will be entered to win.

“Vaccines are the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19, and our fastest way to end this pandemic,” said Governor Kate Brown. “The Take Your Shot Oregon Campaign is a way to thank Oregonians for stepping up and keeping our communities safe. It’s never been easier to get a vaccine, so don’t miss your shot to enter!”

The campaign is a collaboration between the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Lottery, and the Oregon State Treasury, and is funded with $1.86 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Act dollars. With the help of the Oregon Lottery, the Oregon Health Authority will draw names for winners in each category.

The drawing will take place on June 28, with names announced the following week. The cut off for names being added to the vaccine database is midnight on June 27.

The second motivation encouraged by the state is an effort to add vaccinated sections are large events, such as for upcoming Portland Trail Blazers games.
“When fans left the Moda Center last March, it was one of the first signs this pandemic was about to change our lives in ways we hadn’t previously imagined,” said Brown. “Vaccines are the key to our return to normal life. It is a testament to the way Oregonians have united to battle this virus and get vaccinated in large numbers that, this week, the Rip City faithful can return to give our Trail Blazers the legendary home court advantage they deserve.”
OHA will update health and safety guidance for lower risk counties this week to reflect the following changes, allowing the option for vaccinated sections for businesses, venues and faith institutions.

OHA’s new guidance includes the following:

  • Individuals in Oregon are no longer required to wear a face mask or physically distance, whether indoors or outdoors, two weeks after their final COVID-19 vaccination dose. A “fully vaccinated individual” is a person who has received both doses of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine and at least 14 days have passed since the individual’s final dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals are required to continue wearing a mask and observe physical distancing on public transportation and in schools, hospitals and clinics, homeless shelters, youth and adult correctional facilities and long-term care facilities.
  • Businesses, employers and faith institutions can choose to no longer require masks and physical distancing for fully vaccinated individuals or continue to require masks and physical distancing in their locations for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.
  • If a business, employer or faith institution chooses to no longer require masks and physical distancing, the business, employer or faith institution must require visitors to show proof of vaccination and review the proof of vaccination. In that case, a business would need to have a policy for checking the vaccination status of customers and employees if they are not wearing masks. Fully vaccinated individuals would need to provide proof they’d been vaccinated if they want to remove face coverings and not observe physical distancing guidelines.

In addition, state health experts announced that face coverings are no longer required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. OHA strongly recommends that people who are not vaccinated and people who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease continue to wear face coverings and physically distance in outdoor crowded areas and large gatherings.

People can learn more about the virus, and how to get vaccinated, at covidvaccine.oregon.gov;

coronavirus.oregon.gov/Pages/living-with-covid-19.aspx; all4oregon.org; lanecounty.org/coronavirus; and lanecounty.org/vaxclinics.