PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Face coverings are required in indoor public spaces in Oregon but some people simply don’t want to wear them, leaving businesses in a bind.
The mandate went into effect on July 1. People who have underlying health conditions, have a disability or are under the age of 12 are exempt from the mask mandate.
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health expects businesses to tell a customer without a face covering that a mask or face shield is required indoors. If a person decline, businesses should politely ask if they have a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing one.
If so, no further questions should be asked. But if the don’t have an exemption, then OSHA says a business should kindly ask them to leave and they can call the police if the person refuses. The state makes it clear that under no circumstance should a business try to physically block a person from entering.
Not enforcing the policy can lead to a citation.
Friday marked 10 days since the mandate took effectt. And many businesses find they’re stuck in the middle when it comes to enforcing it.
It’s a touchy topic. Some businesses declined to talk to KOIN 6 News about the situation. But Ava Roasteria — a coffee shop with locations in Beaverton, Lake Oswego and Hillsboro — shared its experience.
Workers there said there have been some occasions when customers simply didn’t want to wear a mask so they’ve had to remind them about the state mandate.
“We want everyone to have a good customer experience when they come, that’s number one for us,” said Ava Roasteria Director of Operations Kian Haddad. “But at the same time we have to maintain safety and making sure we are doing our part; if a customer refuses to wear a mask, we ask them kindly to leave.”
Haddad said most people have been treating the statewide rule with respect but there have been some exceptions.
“For our employees, it’s more on keeping safety for people in the store and our other customers,” he said. “Just because you may not feel inclined and don’t necessarily have the fear that other people do doesn’t discount other people’s health conditions and communities’ efforts to keep up with health.”
Ava Roasteria has options for customers who don’t want to comply with the mandate, including call-in orders and mobile delivery through services like Uber Eats and Postmates.
Haddad said they offer customers masks if they come in without one on.
“You have the right not to wear a face mask, that is your right,” he said. “But as a business, we also have the right to serve you or not serve you if it comes to that, which it rarely ever does.”
OSHA said it received 750 complaints over the Fourth of July weekend, most of which concerned the face-covering requirement.