No masks? Oregon businesses must check vaccine status

Coronavirus

Businesses free to establish own mask policies

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Health Authority clarified that businesses must check their customers’ vaccine status in order to allow them to take off masks.

New guidance released on Tuesday says that in public settings where vaccination status is checked, masks will not be required. If there is no vaccination status being checked, however, masks will still be needed.

“If they have a process to review vaccination records and show that people are fully vaccinated, they’re free to serve customers in that manner. If they don’t want to, or cannot implement a system like that, they can continue to operate under the OHA guidance that requires masks and physical distancing,” OHA’s Dr. Dean Sidelinger said.

Finally, mask requirements no longer apply to anyone who is outdoors, though OHA said it recommends wearing a mask in crowded areas and large gatherings and to maintain physical distance as much as possible.

OHA’s follows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement last week stating those who are fully vaccinated could stop wearing masks and stop physical distancing in most public spaces.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

“Masks continue to save lives and protect people who are not vaccinated,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “However, last week’s announcement from the CDC emphasizes the point that safe and effective vaccines are the very best way to protect people from getting and spreading COVID.”

The new Oregon guidance says:

  • 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.
  • However, 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.

Many wonder, though, how one will be able to know if someone is fully vaccinated — especially with shot cards. Some worry the requirement is revealing protected health information while others say cards won’t be hard to forge.

New Yorkers have been using a free app that digitally verifies those who have been vaccinated. A QR code is produced that can be scanned, allowing holders to get into certain places and events.

KOIN 6 News asked Gov. Kate Brown on the potential of Oregon having a passport system like New York.

“We are not going to move forward with that approach,” Gov. Brown said. “As I said, I don’t have a concern about businesses moving forward with a verification vaccine program.”

President Joe Biden has also said there are no plans for a national vaccine passport system.

Oregon reported four new virus-related deaths on Tuesday, in addition to 484 new confirmed and presumptive cases.

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