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Under new guidance, Oregon businesses would have to check vaccination status to loosen mask requirements

Anticipated guidance from the Oregon Health Authority regarding fewer mask and distancing requirements for fully vaccinated people came through on Tuesday.

Posted: May 18, 2021 2:20 PM
Updated: May 18, 2021 5:28 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Anticipated guidance from the Oregon Health Authority governing fewer mask and distancing requirements for fully vaccinated people came through on Tuesday — but for business owners and venues, embracing the new guidance would require checking vaccination status of patrons.

Broadly speaking, the OHA guidance allows people who are fully vaccinated to not wear a mask indoors in public settings where vaccination status is checked. If vaccination status isn't checked, masks remain required just as before. Businesses and venues can choose to continue with previous mask requirements and forego the vaccination status check.

“Masks continue to save lives and protect people who are not vaccinated. However, last week’s announcement from the CDC emphasizes the point that safe and effective vaccines are the very best way to protect people from getting and spreading COVID,” OHA director Patrick Allen said. “That’s why it’s safer for life to look more like normal for people who are fully vaccinated. And why people who haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated should do so as soon as they can.”

A “fully vaccinated individual” is defined as someone who has received both doses of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine, and at least 14 days have passed since the individual’s final dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said last Friday that a vaccination status check would likely require display of a completed vaccination card, but the guidance released Tuesday did not specify how it's supposed to be accomplished — as written, it requires businesses, employers and faith institutions to have a policy for checking proof, and follow through on requesting and reviewing said proof.


RELATED: New Oregon Health Authority dashboard tracks progress toward vaccination goals


In a follow-up briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Sidelinger said that proof could take the form of a completed vaccine card or a print-out from the healthcare provider — either paper documents or photos of those documents — but it must include the person's name and birthdate in addition to the vaccine records.

Also included in OHA's guidance was an announcement that masks will no longer be required for anyone who is outdoors, but masks are still recommended in crowded areas and at large gatherings. Physical distancing is also recommended in those settings.

Even for the fully vaccinated, masks and physical distancing are still required on public transportation, in schools, hospitals and clinics, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and long-term care facilities.

In a statement responding to the new guidance, Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod made clear that he does not approve, calling it a "vaccine passport scheme."

“Vaccine passports are completely contrary to Oregonians' sense of privacy,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “In a democracy, having to present proper paperwork to engage in everyday activities is a complete violation of public trust and an invasion of privacy. This kind of dictatorial control over the everyday lives of Oregonians must stop. The Governor should immediately rescind this misguided edict and trust Oregonians.”

Sen. Girod cited the Biden administration, which has said previously that it would not implement vaccine passports at the federal level. It's perhaps too soon to tell if states will adopt a method similar to Oregon for verifying vaccination status.

When asked about the decision to require proof rather than taking people's word, Dr. Sidelinger pointed to Oregon's current COVID-19 landscape — case rates that remain elevated, if gradually dropping; hospitalizations that have plateaued and remain above 300 since the spike in April; and less than half of the total population vaccinated.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 206851

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40371614
Washington26781248
Marion23425323
Clackamas18932235
Lane13908164
Jackson11535146
Deschutes1001882
Umatilla859387
Linn561181
Yamhill478279
Klamath477678
Polk399356
Douglas388483
Malheur361463
Josephine360672
Benton326522
Jefferson237039
Coos216637
Columbia192129
Union149924
Wasco144430
Lincoln143021
Crook129223
Hood River121633
Morrow115416
Clatsop10589
Baker101115
Curry71011
Tillamook6604
Grant5507
Lake4678
Harney4339
Wallowa1945
Gilliam801
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3809710

Reported Deaths: 63356
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124774424456
Riverside3016684627
San Bernardino2992894845
San Diego2818103771
Orange2730575113
Santa Clara1201632188
Kern1107991404
Sacramento1078211736
Fresno1029471724
Alameda896591277
Ventura816611031
San Joaquin747271440
Contra Costa70730813
Stanislaus634971070
Tulare49776849
Monterey43836432
San Mateo42681581
San Francisco37269556
Santa Barbara34613455
Solano33762266
Merced32313478
Sonoma30884317
Imperial28855741
Placer23589299
Kings23195247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16638245
Santa Cruz16246208
Marin14206230
Yolo14160212
Butte12668194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10396116
Napa1002680
Sutter9663113
Yuba648951
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama573463
Nevada491975
Humboldt449948
Mendocino434050
Tuolumne421271
Amador374047
Lake356345
Glenn243427
Siskiyou239637
Colusa228418
Calaveras220756
Del Norte14588
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5585
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
Sierra1160
Alpine890
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