Updated Sept. 10, 2021Multco Public Health Advisory: Keep Wearing Your Masks

Masks or face coverings are required throughout Oregon in all indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces where physical distancing is not possible until February 2022 in response to surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

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 rule applies to adults and children 5 and older.

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 To avoid confusion, the County has rescinded its rule and is following the statewide mandate, which is in effect until Feb. 8, 2022.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. 

Read the full Oregon Administrative Rule here.

State officials said common sense exemptions apply for activities that would be “impractical or impossible to do while wearing a mask,” for example: while actively eating and drinking; swimming and competitive sports; performances involving singing or speaking in public.

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.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is there a Face Covering Order?

COVID-19 has surged across Oregon with record numbers of cases posted statewide. Gov. Kate Brown said the goal of the new order is to limit the spread of the Delta variant as much as possible indoors, where COVID-19 spreads more easily, and outdoors when it's not possible to maintain physical distance. The requirement works in combination with efforts to encourage more Oregonians to become fully vaccinated. About 68 percent of everyone in Multnomah County has received at least one dose of vaccine as of Sept. 10.

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. And 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 and in outdoor public spaces where physical distancing is not possible. 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. Are there any exceptions to when one has to wear a face covering/mask?

Yes. 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.

Additionally, if you are sleeping in a dormitory-style space with beds 6 feet apart, we do not require you to wear a mask or face covering while asleep.

Read the full Oregon Administrative Rule here 

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

For the purposes of this new law, masks include cloth face coverings that fit snugly around the nose and mouth for the purpose of reducing the spread of germs, as well as surgical masks and N95 respirators. The Oregon Health Authority recommends wearing a face covering or mask instead of a face shield, except in limited situations when a face shield by itself is appropriate, like talking to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, who needs to read lips to communicate. We encourage people to continue conserving medical-grade masks for the medical professionals who need them most. Cloth face coverings are effective for most non-medical uses, and they are reusable and washable. 

9. How is the new law enforced?

 Oregon OSHA will provide enforcement for employers and employees, with an education-first approach: 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.

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 emailing MaskCompliance@multco.us or contact us by phone at 503-988-8698 to submit a complaint. The County will forward all complaints to OSHA.

10. As a business owner or operator, what do I need to do to be in compliance with the law?

As a business owner or operator, you are subject to the State Indoor Face Covering Order and it is your responsibility to ensure that your workplace is compliant with the indoor COVID-19 mask mandate.

You are required to:

  • ​​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. 

14. When will the mask mandate end?

The current state rule is in effect until February 2022.