Late last week, Governor Kate Brown announced that the State of Oregon would largely remove its mask and social-distancing requirements once 70 percent of adult Oregonians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Following that announcement, the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OR-OSHA”) published its plans to repeal at least some aspects of its COVID-19 workplace safety rules once the 70 percent target is reached.
The biggest takeaway for employers is that OR-OSHA intends to repeal its requirements related to face coverings and physical distancing. If OR-OSHA follows through with that intention, employers will no longer be required to mandate face coverings or enforce social distancing for non-vaccinated employees or customers.
OR-OSHA’s announcement stated:
As Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced last week, once Oregon reaches the 70 percent vaccination threshold the state will not require masks and face coverings in almost all settings, with some exceptions following federal guidance, including airports, public transit, and health care settings. The governor has also asked Oregon OSHA to review its workplace rules and update them based on this decision.
Consistent with the governor’s decision, Oregon OSHA intends to repeal the basic face covering and physical distancing requirements of its COVID-19 rule when the state reaches 70 percent of its adults vaccinated against the virus with at least one dose. Oregon OSHA is also convening stakeholders to review its COVID-19 rules in light of the governor’s announcement and to determine whether other provisions should be repealed. Oregon OSHA expects to begin those discussions during the week of June 14.
OR-OSHA’s announcement does not come as a surprise given the Governor’s comments last week and the trend toward re-opening that has followed the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) guidance issued last month that fully vaccinated individuals need not observe physical distancing requirements or wear face coverings in most settings.
We will continue to keep you posted about OR-OSHA’s plans to formally terminate its COVID-19 safety rules.