Some exceptions apply, but Kate Brown says step is need to stem rising COVID-19 caseloads in Oregon.

Masks will be required starting Friday, Aug. 27, in most Oregon public outdoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, as the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to increase sharply.

Gov. Kate Brown’s latest order applies to all outdoor events where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Masks are recommended by the Oregon Health Authority for events at private residences where people from different households mingle and physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Brown said in a statement Tuesday, Aug. 24, that her order was prompted by the spread of the delta variant, particularly among people who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Her statement:

“Masks are a quick and simple tool we can immediately deploy to protect ourselves and our families, and quickly help stop further spread of COVID-19.

“The delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants we’ve seen, and it has dramatically increased the amount of virus in our communities. Masks have proven to be effective at bringing case counts down and are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings, to help fight COVID and protect one another.”

The rule does not apply when two people pass each other.

Since mask mandates and other restrictions were lifted June 30, the resurgence of the coronavirus has prompted Brown to reinstate a mask requirement for indoor spaces starting on Aug. 13, and orders for mandatory vaccinations of health care workers, state workers and K-12 public school workers.

Some universities and health care organizations – Oregon Health & Science University, Kaiser Permanente, PeaceHealth and Legacy Health – had already mandated vaccinations for employees and students.

The Food and Drug Administration gave full federal approval on Monday for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which had been under an emergency use authorization. The action may prompt some private employers to follow up with their own mandates.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state health officer, said the delta variant is more easily spread by people even though they may not show symptoms.

“This is because they have one thousand times more virus in their nose – which means that those around them are much more likely to get sick because this variant behaves so differently,” he said.

“We are starting to see instances where cases are clustering around events, like outdoor music festivals, that happen outdoors. Wearing masks in crowded settings – even outdoors – will help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The rule aligns with the exceptions outlined in the recent statewide indoor mask requirements, and does not apply to:

Children under 5 years old;

Individuals who are actively eating, drinking, or sleeping – as well as individuals living outdoors, such as persons experiencing houselessness;

Persons playing or practicing competitive sports, or engaged in an activity in which it is not feasible to wear a mask, such as swimming;

Individuals delivering a speech or performing, such as with outdoor music or theater;

Mask requirements for day-to-day operations at K-12 schools are not governed by this rule, and will instead continue to fall under the school mask rule. Outside public events, spectator events and gatherings of the general public on K-12 school grounds will be subject to the rule. Child care and youth programs will continue to follow existing OHA mask guidance; and

In addition, entities subject to the ADA must continue to comply with that law.
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