National groups: Oregon business vaccine verifying ‘alarming’


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a letter to the Biden administration, national business groups are speaking out against Oregon’s policy requiring local businesses to verify customers’ vaccination status in order to remove masks.

Ten national business associations signed a letter to the Biden administration’s leaders in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on May 25 calling Oregon’s policy requiring businesses to check for people’s vaccination status if they want to be maskless “alarming” and arguing that businesses such as retail locations and restaurants are not set up to enforce health codes.

The letter cited instances of confrontations between employees and customers over mask mandates, adding, “As with mask mandates to confront customers in this way is calculated to lead to anger and violence.”

The letter ultimately asked for the agencies and the White House to “emphasize” local and state rules shouldn’t be burdensome for employees.

“If Oregon’s policy remains in place or, worse yet, spreads to other jurisdictions, it will put America’s
labor force at risk,” the letter stated.

Signatories for the letter included the National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association, National Grocers Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.

Many Oregon business leaders tell KOIN 6 News they agree.

“What we’re hearing from retailers is that they’re running into arguments with customers, some store employees feeling threatened,” Sandra McDonough, Oregon Business Industry CEO, said. “It’s not a great situation, we think it needs to be addressed.”

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In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Brown spokesperson Charles Boyle said businesses don’t have to implement a vaccine verification plan if they choose to maintain current mask and physical distancing guidelines, and added the majority of businesses are choosing to keep requiring masks for customers.

“Our office has heard the concerns from the business community, retail workers, and others loud and clear, and we are committed to working to continue to refine our approach,” Boyle continued in the statement. “This week’s announcement on vaccinated sections for venues and businesses is an example of that––starting this week, with vaccine verification in place, businesses and other venues can increase their maximum capacity.”

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