PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Don’t get rid of those masks just yet as the Oregon Health Authority is proposing a permanent mandate, however, many Oregonians are in strong opposition.

The proposed mandate means there would be no set expiration, but health officials say they would be able to cancel the mandate when they feel it’s no longer necessary.

OHA held a public hearing Thursday morning regarding an indoor mask mandate. Several Oregonians shared strong opposition to the mandate, and some even said they no longer trusted OHA’s recommendations.

“Up until now, masking was a temporary measure re-examined and renewed every 180 days. This puts a forcing function of time into each mask mandate requiring you to look at current evidence and hear public opinion,” a West Linn resident said in opposition. “Even as a manner of ceremony — by passing a permanent rule you eliminate these critical checkpoints during what is a rapidly evolving situation.”

“It is time to start living with COVID,” said another commenter in opposition. “We need to resume life to prioritize our small business owners and children.”

On Monday, OHA will hold two more public hearings. The first will be on a masking requirement in schools and COVID-19 vaccination requirements for teachers and school staff. The second will be on masking and vaccination requirements in health care settings.

The temporary masking rules currently implemented in Oregon end February 8.

“Two of the most important tools the state has to control COVID-19 are vaccination
and masking,” according to OHA.

Health officials are seeking to implement masking requirements in schools and mandatory vaccinations for teachers and staff saying those in congregate spaces like a classroom are more susceptible to getting COVID.