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Multnomah County Is Now Asking People to Wear Masks in Restaurants and Bars — Vaccinated or Not

As cases climb, Multnomah County officials are asking Oregonians to try to curb the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19

A woman pours her cocktail Sleep Witch, made with DL Franklin Vodka infused with Tea Hunter’s Blue Valentine tea, into a can while wearing a mask. After starting with craft syrups and cocktail kits, Solis-Robertson launched several canned cocktails in early 2021 at NE bar WedgeHead.
Little Hands/Stiff Drinks creator KaCee Solis-Robertson pours a cocktail into a can earlier this year. Portland diners may start to see bartenders and restaurant workers donning masks more frequently once again, as Multnomah County urges its citizens to begin wearing masks indoors.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Although the state has lifted most of its COVID-19 safety mandates, Multnomah County is asking its citizens to wear masks indoors once again.

In a statement released today, July 26, Multnomah County health officials made new recommendations when it comes to masks, requesting everyone five years and older don face coverings while in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status; the county would prefer everyone two years and older wear masks, if those two-to-four-year-olds can tolerate a face covering. This advisory is meant to be a protective measure, to not only prevent more restrictions on businesses, but more importantly, to evade unnecessary illness and death. “We have an opportunity to make a difference in our county’s case rates right now. But if we don’t act, we can expect an exponential rise in cases, especially in pockets with low vaccinations. This could lead to preventable hospitalizations and even death,” Public Health Director Jessica Guernsey said in a statement. “Masking is a step we can all take right now to keep businesses open and move ahead with our plans for the school year. This is the thing that will make a difference.”

The increasing number of hospitalizations and cases throughout Oregon is almost certainly due to the spread of the delta variant. Health officials say the delta variant is “twice as contagious as earlier strains of the virus;” about 80 percent of COVID-19 cases in Oregon are comprised of the delta variant, according to recent tests. It can still infect and sicken Oregonians who are fully vaccinated, but the main concern is for people who are still unvaccinated — by their own volition or due to a previous health condition or age.

Other cities around the country have instituted similar mask recommendations, including Seattle and San Francisco. However, Oregon does not require businesses to enforce mask mandates, although some spaces still require masks, like hospitals, airports, and public transit.

Multnomah County issues universal mask recommendation as COVID-19 cases rise [Official]
Oregon Restaurants Can Return to Full Capacity and Late-Night Hours Today [EPDX]
How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Portland Restaurant World [EPDX]