The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has recently published permanent rules requiring COVID-19 vaccination and masking for health care staff and K-12 schools, as well as a permanent rule on indoor masking that applies nationwide. But even though the rules are “permanent”, they are not meant to last forever.
“Oregon will remove general mask requirements for indoor public spaces by March 31,” according to state health officials. The rule replaced a temporary standard that expired on February 8th.
Heads of state also expect to lift the masking requirements for schools by the end of March.
We have collected articles on masking rules from SHRM online and other media.
Directives for health and school staff
The permanent rules on vaccination and masking for health and K-12 workers replace temporary rules that had expired. The rules will “remain in force unless the state director of public health or the public health official issues an order that the requirements … are no longer necessary to control COVID-19,” according to state leaders. Oregon officials will consider the following factors when deciding whether to release or cancel orders:
- Degree of COVID-19 transfer.
- Number of COVID-19 related admissions and deaths.
- Disparate effects of COVID-19-related health problems for colored communities and tribal communities.
- Guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Proportion of the population partially or fully vaccinated.
“Healthcare and K-12 employers may want to review their COVID-19 policies and practices in the workplace to consider compliance,” said Paul Cirner, an attorney at Ogletree Deakins in Portland, Ore.
Indoor mask mandate
On February 7, the OHA issued a permanent rule on indoor masking, which remains in effect until it is revised or repealed by the state’s public health director or health officer. “Although the rule repeatedly refers to COVID-19, it is unclear whether the indoor mask mandate is limited to COVID-19, or whether it can be invoked in the future if the public health director or health officer deems it necessary,” noted Heather Van Meter, a lawyer with Bullard Law in Portland, Ore.
According to the directive, people must wear masks in public indoor spaces unless they are:
- Younger than 5 years or not yet in kindergarten (although everyone 2 years and older must wear a mask in public transport).
- Eat or drink actively.
- Engaged in an activity that makes it impossible to wear a mask (such as swimming).
- In a private individual workplace.
- Remove the card mask to confirm their identity.
- To practice or cultivate a competitive sport.
- Manages a competitive sport if the role requires a high level of physical exertion.
- To perform music or theater or give a speech to an audience.
Companies must put up signs at entrances and enforce the mask mandate for all employees, visitors and customers. Violations can result in fines of up to $ 500 per person pr. day.
Oregon Drops Vaccine-or-Test Rule
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that halted the federal government’s vaccine-or-test rule for large private employers, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Oregon OSHA) announced that the state dropped plans to adopt a similar policy. “Oregon OSHA maintains a COVID-19 rule that requires employers to implement protection for workers. These protections include infection control planning, exposure risk assessments, sanitation and notification,” the state agency said.
Some states relax pandemic-related masking rules
Many states – including California, Illinois and New York – are easing their mask requirements as COVID-19 cases fall after the winter rise caused by the omicron variant of coronavirus. The CDC has not relaxed its guidelines, but director Rochelle Walensky said the agency will soon update its COVID-19-related measurements. “We assess the key factors based on where we are in the pandemic and we will soon introduce guidelines that are relevant and encourage preventive measures when they are most needed to protect public health and our hospitals,” she explained at a press briefing. in the White House on February 16th.
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