On February 7, 2022, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) announced that it would lift the general state-wide indoor mask requirement no later than March 31, 2022. Per the OHA, the mask requirement for schools will also lifted by March 31, in coordination with the Oregon Department of Education (“ODE”).
The OHA is basing its decision on what it anticipates will be a sharp decrease in hospitalization rates for COVID-19 patients by the end of March. For now, however, the OHA will maintain the indoor mask requirement as COVID-19 hospitalizations reach their peak and Oregon’s health care system continues to feel the strain of the ongoing pandemic.
Although the OHA’s update provides helpful information about the fate of the mask requirement, several questions remain unanswered. These include:
- Whether the OHA will wait until March 31 to withdraw the indoor mask mandate, or will do so earlier;
- Whether mask requirements will continue in effect in locations that present a higher risk of COVID-19 transmissions, for example, in nursing homes or in health care or transportation-related facilities;
- Whether local governments like cities, counties and school districts will continue to require masks even after the OHA no longer requires them.
The OHA specifically noted that once the indoor mask requirement is lifted, employers and businesses may maintain their own mask requirements.
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you apprised about what the law requires. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to any of our L&E attorneys with questions.