PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Governor Kate Brown said on Thursday that businesses have the right to refuse entry to anyone not wearing a face covering after announcing a new rule requiring them in some counties starting next week.
Brown held a press conference outlining the next steps of the state’s phase reopening approach, one day after announcing Multnomah County has finally been approved for Phase 1.
She said people will not face arrest for not wearing a face covering in public but strongly encouraged residents to comply with the requirement.
Face coverings will be required starting June 24 while in indoor public spaces for Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Marion, Polk, and Lincoln counties. Face coverings are not required while eating at restaurants.
Children under 12 are exempt as well as those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing them.
“All of our actions will determine our future,” she said as she expressed hope that people will embrace the new rule. She said face coverings don’t have to be masks, and can be bandanas or other cloth pieces.
Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said during the press conference that there were 14 new COVID-19 hospitalizations in Multnomah County this week, not 9 like previously reported. He apologized for the error but still expressed support for the county entering Phase 1 on Friday.
“We’ve said all along reopening comes with risks,” Allen said. “The question is, can we manage those risks?”
He said he believes the answer is yes for all counties in Oregon, including Multnomah County.
Governor Brown said she made the decision to reopen Multnomah County based on data showing decreasing hospitalizations, which was incorrect. Despite this, she too still supports entering Phase 1 on Friday.
“The next few weeks will be difficult,” Brown said. “We are much better prepared than we were in early March.”
She also placed a connection between Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties for any future decisions on reopening. The tri-county region, Brown said, “will remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days after June 19 before the three counties together will become eligible for Phase 2. I know this impacts communities and businesses in Clackamas and Washington counties but, as we reopen our state, we must recognize how interconnected the metro area is.”
Also on Wednesday, Brown announced Marion, Polk, and Hood River counties are allowed to move to Phase 2 beginning Friday.
“Marion and Polk counties are seeing a decline in hospitalizations, and Hood River has had only one new hospital admission in the past two weeks,” Brown said in a statement. “All three counties have implemented timely follow up on cases in the past week.”
Marion and Polk counties are connected in a similar way to the tri-county region, she said.