Time to unmask? That’s a good question.

EMPLOYER ALERT: Mask and Social Distancing Requirements

Effective May 18, 2021, the Oregon Health Authority has lifted the mask and social distancing requirements (except for some specific industries and public spaces that have been excluded) for fully vaccinated employees and members of the general public. This new guidance states that, “Individuals in Oregon are no longer required to wear a face mask or physically distance, whether indoors or outdoors, two weeks after their final COVID-19 vaccination dose.”   

Businesses, employers and faith institutions may, at their discretion, continue to apply and enforce the mask, face covering and face shield guidance, and physical distancing requirements in state COVID-19 guidance to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, and must continue to do so if they do not have a policy for checking proof of vaccination or have not reviewed proof of vaccination for an individual, or if the individual has declined to provide such proof.” 

At this time Oregon OSHA still needs to lift restrictions on employees. Any potential changes, at this time, are solely for members of the general public. Cardinal will keep you informed of any OR-OSHA changes

UPDATE as of May 19th, OSHA has issued guidelines that are in line with the OHA’s guidance. See our post on May 20th.

Remember that the rules around employees and members of the general public do not need to be identical—but this can lead to confusion.     Regardless of whether the business owner decides to implement this guidance moving forward, make sure you communicate these changes to your employees, your customers, and the general public with signage stating your worksite’s mask, face covering, and face shield requirements.

Some Common Questions

Do employers or businesses have to make changes right now?  
No, you can keep operating exactly the same way as you have been. Many employers and businesses will want to take stock of the changes and interact with their staff to see what changes should be made and in what timeline.  You may not want to make a change immediately and consider that you could have two groups of employees, one that are vaccinated and the other who will not disclose vaccination status, are partially vaccinated, or unwilling to be vaccinated. Be sure to include plans on addressing potential conflict for those choosing to disclose vaccination status or those not disclosing. This is not limited to employees but can include the general public’s conduct toward either group.

How do employers verify COVID-19 vaccinations on employees?  
Employers can require and make copies of an employee’s vaccination record but there is no requirement to do so. If you want to document compliance, copies need to be stored securely but separately from employee files. You can require proof but should not ask why they have not been vaccinated. If Employees decline to answer, you may require them to wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

How do businesses verify COVID-19 vaccinations on customers?  
Businesses can require to see proof of vaccination. You can require proof but cannot makes copies of vaccination records, keeps lists of, or ask why they have not been vaccinated. Any member of the general public may decline to answer and thus be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Businesses can rely on copies or pictures of the vaccination record from a cell phone picture. 

Does the verification of a vaccination violate some type of law, like the Americans with Disability Act?
No, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidance that employers may inquire about. Employees and members of the general public can decline to answer and thus have to practice social distancing and wear a mask.

Can employers forbid the use of a mask?
Employees cannot be forbidden to wear a mask except in very specific situations.
See the Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks

How will this new rule be enforced?
According to the OHA, this will be primarily complaint driven. Currently OR-OSHA relieves complaints from the general public about the lack of mask usage. Cardinal understands there are some spot checks by OR-OSHA and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Expect the same level of enforcement.