On May 18, 2021, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) published new COVID-19 guidance: “Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals” and “Statewide Reopening Guidance – Masks, Face Coverings, Face Shields.”  Today, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OR-OSHA”) issued guidance for the workplace.  The new guidance from the agencies follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) announcement last week that fully vaccinated individuals generally do not need to wear masks or socially distance.

Under the new OR-OSHA guidance, Oregon employers need not require masks or physical distancing for fully vaccinated employees. Employees who are not fully vaccinated (regardless of the reason) must continue to comply with face-covering and physical distancing requirements under OR-OSHA’s COVID 19 rules.

The new OHA guidance is identical for businesses: Oregon businesses need not require masks or physical distancing for fully vaccinated visitors or customers.  There are important limitations imposed on employers and businesses, however: businesses or employers who want to lift the face covering and physical distancing requirements must confirm vaccination status.  We have summarized the new guidance below.

OHA’s Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

According to the OHA, most businesses may allow customers to go mask-free indoors if the customers are fully vaccinated and the business sees proof of vaccination status.

Definition of “Fully Vaccinated.”  Oregon defines fully vaccinated 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.

Proof of Vaccination Status.  Individuals can prove that they are fully vaccinated with documentation provided by a tribal, federal, state, or local government, or by a health care provider, that includes the individual’s name, date of birth, type of COVID-19 vaccine, date or dates given, and the name and location of the health care provider or site where the vaccine was administered.  Appropriate documentation includes vaccination record cards or a copy or digital photo of the card.

Exceptions from the “Mask-Free/No Physical Distancing” Provisions.  Some businesses and locations must continue to require masks and physical distancing, regardless of vaccination status. These include:

  • adult jails, youth detention, and correctional facilities;
  • shelters and transitional housing;
  • K-12 schools;
  • planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation; and
  • transportation hubs such as airports and bus stations.

Organizational Exemption from Face-Covering and Physical-Distancing Requirements. Businesses, employers, and faith institutions must continue to require face coverings and physical distancing unless they develop a policy for checking for vaccination status and request and review proof of vaccination prior to entry or admission.  However, organizations may continue to require face coverings and physical distancing, and must do so if they don’t want to monitor proof of vaccination status.

OR-OSHA’s Statement Regarding Vaccination Status

The OR-OSHA guidance adopts the OHA definitions and standards, noting that OR-OSHA “expects employers to ensure that the physical distancing and facial covering requirements of the rule are enforced[.]”  As with the OHA guidance, the OR-OSHA statement permits employers to allow employees to be “mask free” and to ignore physical distancing requirements if (but only if) the employer verifies the employee’s vaccination status.  An employee who claims to be vaccinated but does not provide verification must comply with face covering and physical distancing requirements.  As with businesses and customers, Oregon employers who do not want to confirm vaccination status may simply choose to follow existing face covering and physical distancing requirements.

It is important to note that all other aspects of OR-OSHA COVID 19 workplace safety rules still apply.  For example, employers still must notify “exposed employees” (those who were within six feet of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes) and “affected employees” (those who worked in the same facility or well-defined portion of the facility) within 24 hours of their potential exposure to COVID-19.  The OR-OSHA COVID 19 rules are available here.

Statewide Reopening Guidance – Masks, Face Coverings, Face Shields

Under the Statewide Reopening Guidance, individuals who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear face coverings unless they are in their own residence or personal vehicle; are under the age of five; are eating, drinking, or sleeping; are in a private individual work space; or are outdoors.

If you have any questions about the new OR-OSHA statement or the OHA guidance or any other topic, please reach out to one of our attorneys.