SALEM, Ore. -- Soon face coverings will be required in indoor public spaces statewide, Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday.
The new requirement takes effect July 1. It applies to both businesses and members of the public.
“From the beginning of the reopening process, I have said that reopening comes with the risk of seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases beyond our health systems’ capacity to test, trace, and isolate them,” said Brown. “Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4 holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference."
Brown referenced the latest coronavirus modeling report provided to the Oregon Health Authority, which showed considerable potential for spread of the virus based on data from the past several weeks of reopening.
Widespread use of face coverings could help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and may help prevent the state from having to roll back reopening phases as some other states have done, according to the Governor's office.
An organization representing Oregon hospitals, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, released a statement in support of Governor Brown's announced on Monday.
"We know that when we all make the choice to wear a face covering in public, we are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With cases on the rise rapidly across the state, it is now more important than ever to take this step to protect our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities," said OAHHS president and CEO Becky Hultberg. "Further, if we are to coexist alongside the disease, wide adoption of public face coverings is an essential factor in keeping our businesses and public spaces open."
“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing," Brown said. "If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public."
Brown's statement also advised Oregonians to keep Fourth of July celebrations small and local.
Earlier this month, Brown and Oregon health officials issued a similar face covering requirement for a handful of counties that have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases. That requirement went into effect last Wednesday.
Under the face covering guidelines that are now being expanded to the entire state, masks will be required in all businesses — including grocery stores, gyms, pharmacies, public transit, salons and barber shops, restaurants, retail stores and shopping malls, and in ride shares.
Children under the age of 12 and people with a medical condition or disability that makes it difficult to wear a mask are exempt from the requirement.
According to the state guide, "face covering" means a cloth, paper, or disposable barrier that covers the nose and mouth.