Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jun 18, 2020

OREGON: Governor updates reopening orders and mask policy


Governor Kate Brown recently issued a series of orders and decisions affecting Oregon’s phased reopening from restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). This remains a fluid situation. Even as we publish this newsletter, the governor and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) continue to issue new orders and update previously published guidance. Please check the governor’s COVID-19 website and the OHA COVID-19 website for the latest updates (keeping in mind there’s a lot of overlap between the two).

Updated Phase 2 guidance. On June 5, 2020, the governor issued Executive Order 20-27, “A Safe and Strong Oregon (Phase II).” The order rescinds and replaces Executive Order 20-25 (which included only Baseline and Phase 1 requirements), and adds limited requirements for counties in Phase 2. The most significant change is that employers in Phase 2 counties “may begin a limited return to office work, although remote working remains recommended to the extent possible.” Talk with your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney about the pros and cons of inviting office workers to return in Phase 2. Employers that choose to allow office work under Phase 2 are still responsible for enforcing physical distancing policies, consistent with General Guidance for Employers on COVID-19 from the OHA (which was updated June 11, 2020). Use our Model Policy, Social Distancing Policy as a starting point for evaluating your office environment before allowing workers to return, and consult your Vigilant safety professional for specific recommendations. Phase 2 also allows venue and event operators to open, and allows food and drink establishments to expand service, among other allowances. Even in Phase 2, some industries, such as restaurants, retail, and others remain subject to sector-specific guidance, available on the OHA’s COVID-19 website (scroll down and click on the “OHA Guidance and Signage” tab).

Many manufacturing facilities won’t be newly affected by Executive Order 20-27. Although the updated Phase 2 guidance may change the dynamics for office facilities in manufacturing environments, manufacturing facilities themselves have generally been allowed to continue operating throughout the series of stay-home and reopening orders, subject only to the general employer guidance referenced above (with some sector-specific guidance for agriculture). The order mostly makes changes for employers who haven’t previously been allowed to open, or must reopen in stages (e.g., restaurants). If you’re in a Phase 2 county and need help with a plan to safely reopen your office, contact your Vigilant safety professional.

Phased reopening continues; some counties tied together. Although the governor had temporarily paused the statewide reopening as of June 11, 2020, she issued a statement on June 17, 2020 indicating she was partially resuming the phased reopening. She stated that Multnomah County will finally enter Phase 1 on June 19, 2020, but also that Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties will be considered a single entity for purposes of entering Phase 2. Since all counties in Phase 1 must stay there for at least 21 days, that effectively means those counties will remain in Phase 1 until at least July 10, 2020. Similarly, Marion and Polk Counties will also be considered one unit for purposes of moving forward, but the governor stated those two counties will be allowed to enter Phase 2 on June 19. The governor stated that “these regions include a highly-connected urban area, making it difficult to monitor the disease based solely on the contours of county jurisdictional lines.”

Tips: We won’t normally report on the reopening phase of individual counties, but have done so here in light of the governor tying certain counties together. Please check the reopening map on the governor’s website to find your county’s status.

Face coverings required for indoor public spaces in some counties. In the governor’s statement on June 17, 2020, she said she “will be instituting a requirement to wear face coverings while in indoor public spaces, such as grocery stores and other businesses, for the following counties: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Marion, Polk, and Lincoln,” effective June 24, 2020. The governor didn’t specify in her statement what she meant by the terms “indoor public spaces” or “other businesses,” so it’s unclear yet whether face coverings will be required inside only certain businesses or inside all businesses.

Tips: During a press conference on June 18, 2020, the governor announced that the OHA will issue detailed guidance on the new requirements for face coverings in the seven counties above in the next few days. Check the governor’s and the OHA’s COVID-19 websites regularly for the new face covering requirements, and then determine whether they apply to your business. We don’t yet know exactly the types of businesses that will be subject to the new requirements. If your business is already subject to face covering requirements (e.g., all retail employees are required to wear face coverings, but not all customers), you are still subject to those requirements. The new requirements will add to, not subtract from, those requirements in the seven counties on the list (e.g., all retail employees and most customers in those counties will be required to wear masks).

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.