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Oregon Will Allow Fully Vaccinated Residents to Go Maskless. But Will Restaurants Forgo Their Mask Requirements?

Gov. Kate Brown announced that fully vaccinated Oregonians no longer need to wear masks or socially distance “in most public spaces.” But several restaurants want to keep mask policies in place

A woman in a mask pours the contents of a cocktail shaker into a can
KaCee Solis-Robertson pours a drink at Wedgehead.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX

On May 13, Gov. Kate Brown announced that Oregonians that can prove their vaccination status “no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most public spaces” per state mandate, but what that means for restaurants and bars is still unclear.

The state will release new guidelines for businesses to accommodate vaccinated Oregonians within the next few days, but in a May 14 press conference, state epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger says the guidance will likely require businesses to check vaccination cards before allowing customers to remove masks. The governor also said businesses can stick to the current mask or distancing requirement framework if they choose, as opposed to verifying vaccination status for each individual customer.

This announcement comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, saying fully vaccinated adults can generally forgo social distancing or mask-wearing, as long as they are not symptomatic. The CDC does recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks in health care settings, when traveling, and when visiting correctional facilities or homeless shelters; Oregon’s policy will mirror the CDC’s — public transit, hospitals, correctional facilities, and long-term care facilities will all require people to wear masks, and masks and distancing are still required in Oregon public schools.

Still, some restaurants and bars around Portland have already announced on Instagram and Facebook that they do not intend to change their mask-wearing and social distancing policies. Slabtown Korean fried chicken restaurant Chimaek Town clarified that the shop would still require masks via its Instagram story, and Maurice posted to Instagram asking customers to continue to wear masks when visiting the luncheonette’s walk-up window. Eem also posted to Instagram noting that masks would be required for all diners when away from the table. “We are looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ and playing ‘Edward 40 Hans’ with y’all, but we are still requesting that y’all wear your masks at eem while not at your table or in our public spaces,’” the post reads. “This is out of respect for our guests that may not be vaccinated or because they are immunocompromised.”

For now, many Portland restaurant, bar, and cafe owners are waiting for more information from the Oregon Health Authority. Until then, they’re keeping their masks on.

Full text of statement from Gov. Kate Brown [Official]
Video press conference from Oregon Health Authority [Official]
Oregon businesses likely will need to review COVID-19 vaccination cards for maskless entry by customers [O]

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