Everyone in Oregon — regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status — must resume wearing a mask while in public outdoor spaces where physical distancing is not possible. The mandate, which begins today, Friday, August 27, is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, the state’s governor explains.
“The Delta variant is spreading fast and wide, throwing our state into a level of crisis we have not yet seen in the pandemic — cases and hospitalizations are at a record high,” Governor Kate Brown explained at a news conference. “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. They are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings.”
The Delta variant is highly transmissible. People with this variant have 1,000 times more of the virus in their nose than people who were infected with the original strain of COVID-19 last year, which means people around them are much more likely to get sick, Oregon State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger explained.
“We are starting to see instances where cases are clustering around events, like outdoor music festivals, that happen outdoors,” Dr. Sidelinger continued. “Wearing masks in crowded settings — even outdoors — will help slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Although the mandate requires everyone in Oregon to wear a mask while in outdoor settings in which people from different households are unable to consistently maintain physical distance, it does not apply to “fleeting encounters,” such as two people passing each other on a trail, for example. It should also be noted that while the rule does not apply to outdoor gatherings at private residences with people from different households, Oregon’s Health Authority “strongly recommends” that people wear a mask in those situations.
A Need For Urgent Action
Just under 58 percent of Oregon’s residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, the state is home to a troubling rise in COVID-19 cases. Indeed, earlier this week, new cases surged to a daily average of 2,114 — up from 339 a month ago, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
As is expected, hospitalizations have more than quadrupled in the past month. Earlier this week, Governor Brown noted that there are now 1,000 COVID-19 patients in Oregon’s hospitals.
Exceptions To The Requirement
Beginning today, everyone in Oregon who is 5 years old or older is required to wear a mask in public outdoor settings. There are exceptions, however. For instance, masks do not need to be worn by people who are eating and drinking outdoors. People who are living outdoors while experiencing homelessness do not need to wear a mask either.
There are other exceptions as well. For example, people playing or practicing competitive sports outdoors do not need to wear a mask. People delivering a speech or performing at an outdoor event such as a music festival or theater performance also do not need to wear a mask.
Know Before You Go
The state of Oregon requires everyone over the age of 5 to wear a mask in all indoor public settings — regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. That requirement went into effect on August 13, after the state saw a then record-setting 2,300 cases of COVID-19 reported in one day on August 10.
You can learn more about Oregon’s mask requirements and recommendations here.
While you’re thinking about Oregon, be sure to read the rest of our Oregon coverage. If you enjoy visiting national parks, you’re in luck. Oregon is also home to Crater Lake National Park.