Oregon governor announces statewide outdoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday that she is imposing a statewide outdoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.

“The Delta variant is spreading fast and wide, throwing our state into a level of crisis we have not yet seen in the pandemic,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “Cases and hospitalizations are at a record high. 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 mandate will take effect on Friday Aug. 27 and masks will be required in the majority of public outdoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

“Under the Governor’s direction, the OHA rule will require masks for all individuals — regardless of vaccination status — in outdoor settings in which individuals from different households are unable to consistently maintain physical distance,” the governor’s office said.

“The rule does not apply to fleeting encounters, such as two individuals walking by one another on a trail or in a park. While the rule does not apply to outdoor gatherings at private residences, masks are strongly recommended in those settings when individuals from different households do not consistently maintain physical distance.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks on Nov. 10, 2020, in Portland, Ore.

The rule does not apply to children under 5 years old, the homeless population, people engaged in competitive sports, and those delivering an outdoor speech or performance.

Brown’s mask mandate comes after Oregon experienced its highest total number of single-day cases since the start of the pandemic: 2,200 cases. Oregon currently has an indoor mask mandate in place for anyone over the age of 5. 

A New York Times report in May concluded that the outdoor transmission rate of the coronavirus is less than 1%, which stands in stark contrast with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggested the number was around 10%.

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