SALEM, Ore. — Oregon will adopt newly-loosened CDC guidance on mask and physical distancing requirements for fully vaccinated people, Governor Kate Brown said in a video statement on Thursday afternoon.
"Starting today, Oregon will be following this guidance, which only applies to fully-vaccinated individuals," Brown said. "That means Oregonians who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most public spaces."
Brown highlighted the exceptions outlined by the CDC. Even vaccinated individuals are asked to continue wearing masks and observing physical distancing on public transportation, in hospitals and clinics, in correctional facilities, and in long-term care facilities. Oregon will keep requirements in place for those settings, the Governor said.
"Immuno-compromised people should continue to follow the recommendations of their health care provider when it comes to personal protective measures," Brown continued. "Nothing is changing for schools this school year, and I expect education staff and students to continue to wear masks and physically distance, as outline in our Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance."
Brown indicated that the Oregon Health Authority would be issuing updated guidance for businesses and employers about how to lift masking and distancing requirements "after verifying vaccination status." Businesses that prefer to avoid the change can continue operating with current precautions in place.
"Oregonians now have a choice of how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19; either get vaccinated, or continue wearing a mask and following physical distancing requirements," Brown said.
The Governor's announcement came shortly after Oregon Senate Republicans urged state officials to embrace the CDC guidance. However, it remains unclear whether the change will immediately overturn or amend OSHA's permanent rule for COVID-19 requirements in the workplace, adopted in the beginning of May, or if the rule will remain in place until restrictions are lifted for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
“At nearly every turn, Oregon has moved the slowest to follow the science. On reopening our schools, our economy, and now masks. The science is clear that vaccinated people do not spread the virus and do not need masks. The Governor should immediately direct OSHA to update their permanent mask mandate to come in line with this guidance,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod.
On Wednesday evening, the scientific advisory group organized by West Coast states confirmed approval of the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 12 to 15. As of Thursday, that vaccine is now available for people 12 and older in Oregon, though the other two vaccines remain for people 18 and older only.