Updated Nov. 24, 2021Multco Public Health Advisory: Keep Wearing Your Masks

The State of Oregon requires individuals ages 5 and older, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks in all indoor public spaces. Read the full Oregon Administrative Rule here.
Masks are no longer required in crowded outdoor settings. However, masks are strongly recommended for higher risk people or when in a crowded area for an extended period of time.

Exceptions

State officials said common sense exemptions apply for activities that would be “impractical or impossible to do while wearing a mask,” for example, you are not required to wear a mask when swimming or showering, receiving personal care to any part of your face that the mask covers, eating or drinking, training as an athlete when wearing a mask would be unsafe, when removal of mask is needed for visual comparison, or when in an office alone with floor to ceiling walls and a closed door.

Exceptions are listed in the full Oregon Administrative Rule.

Responsibilities 

If you are responsible for a public indoor space you must:

  • ​​Enforce this mandate by having all employees, contractors, volunteers, students, customers, and all other visitors wear a face covering, unless an exception applies.
  • Provide face coverings for employees.
  • Provide appropriate accommodations for employees, contractors, students, customers, and visitors if such accommodations are required by:
    • State and federal disabilities laws, if applicable, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
    • State or federal labor laws, public accommodations laws, or any other applicable laws.
    • Oregon Health Authority (OHA) public health guidance, if applicable.
  • Post public facing signs about this face covering mandate.
  • Educate employees:
    • On how to safely work and communicate with people who cannot wear face coverings.
    • On how to provide appropriate accommodations for other employees, contractors, students, customers, and visitors if they need such accommodations.

As a business owner or operator, you should also provide face coverings for customers and visitors who do not have one, but you are not required to under this law. 

Check the OHA website to see settings which require additional masking requirements. 

Businesses and organizations may find signs to post by visiting www.healthoregon.org/covidguidance under the “Business Signage” section.

Reporting violations

Complaints for employers and employees should be reported to Oregon OSHA.  OSHA will work with employers who are making an effort to comply and won’t conduct inspections or issue fines immediately as businesses implement masking protocols, including the necessary signage. However, the state is also taking actions against willful breaches of the requirement.

The County strongly discourages attempts to police individuals, but will use information to educate organizations and businesses and detect patterns. If you see a possible violation of the mask mandate, you can report it to Multnomah County by email at MaskCompliance@multco.us or submit a complaint by phone at 503-988-8698. Multnomah County will forward all complaints it receives to Oregon OSHA.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is there a Face Covering Order?

Gov. Kate Brown said the goal of the order is to limit the spread of the Delta variant as much as possible indoors, where COVID-19 spreads more easily. The requirement works in combination with efforts to encourage more Oregonians to become fully vaccinated. 

2. Why is Multnomah County endorsing a mask mandate now?

The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 has caused a surge in new cases and hospitalizations. We have two important tools against this virus and its variants: vaccines and masks. We are going to use the masks until more people are vaccinated. A mask mandate buys us time to protect more people with vaccines. 

3. I am vaccinated. Why do I need to use a mask or face covering?

Although vaccinated individuals have some protection against severe illness due to COVID-19, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has been shown to infect vaccinated individuals who can potentially spread the virus to other individuals. 

4. I am not vaccinated. Why should I get vaccinated if I'm still required to wear a mask or face covering? 

All of the available COVID-19 vaccines make it less likely you will get infected. And if you get infected, being vaccinated makes it much less likely that you will get seriously sick. 

5. When are masks or face coverings required?

Face coverings are required in most indoor spaces. Indoor spaces include any place that members of the public might enter, rent, or utilize, including but not limited to grocery stores, indoor event venues, restaurants, theaters, and places of worship. 

6. Are there any exceptions for who has to wear a mask or face covering?

Yes. Children under the age of 5 do not have to wear a mask in indoor spaces but must start wearing a mask when they turn 5 years of age. Also, if you have a medical condition or disability and have appropriately requested an accommodation, you are not required to wear a mask.

7. What kinds of masks or face coverings are acceptable?

Cloth face coverings that fit snugly around the nose and mouth as well as surgical masks and N95 respirators. OHA does not recommend using face shields alone except in limited situations. See OHA’s Mask Recommendations and Requirements. 

8. When will the mask mandate end?

The current state rule is in effect until February 2022.

History of the rule

Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority announced that indoor mask use is mandatory statewide beginning Aug. 13. The outdoor mask use requirement went into effect Aug. 27. 

The state’s order came after Chair Deborah Kafoury issued an executive rule on Aug. 9 that legally required individuals and businesses to comply with a county-wide rule. To avoid confusion, the County has rescinded its rule and is following the statewide mandate, which is in effect until Feb. 8, 2022. That will ensure a uniform statewide approach.