Oregon lifted the face mask mandate for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but also implemented a stipulation that a business or church must require maskless entrants to show proof of their coronavirus vaccination. The business or house of worship must then review the vaccination card to ensure that it is authentic.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated Americans could go maskless outdoors and in most indoor settings. On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority updated its mask guidelines.
"All businesses, employers and faith institutions are required to 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," the guidance states. The business, employer, and faith institution can allow individuals without face masks and not enforce social distancing if the institution has a "policy for checking for proof of vaccination status of individuals."
The organization must request "proof of vaccination status from each individual" and review each person's proof of vaccination before they are granted entry.
Fully vaccinated individuals in Oregon are still required to wear masks and observe physical distancing on public transportation, in schools, hospitals, clinics, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and long-term care facilities.
The decision to require proof of vaccination arrived after many people, including several cable TV talking heads, were frightened that the new CDC guidance on mask-wearing only by those who are not fully vaccinated was "throwing caution to the wind." Numerous people were concerned that those who were not vaccinated would take advantage of the honor system and simply not wear a mask and claim they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Dr. Leana Wen, former head of Planned Parenthood and a CNN analyst, applauded the decision to require proof of vaccination, "Oregon has it right—honor system can't be trusted."
Meanwhile, independent journalist Jordan Schachtel said the authoritarian move hearkened back to the Nazis demanding identification from citizens at random stops or at checkpoints, "The Corona fascists are celebrating Oregon's rollout of their 'show me your papers' system."
There are concerns about Oregon's new policy forcing businesses to have the responsibility to be the vaccination card police.
"We have serious concerns about the practicality of requiring business owners and workers to be the enforcer," Nathaniel Brown, a spokesman for Oregon Business and Industry, which represents companies like Nike, told the New York Times. "We are hearing from retailers and small businesses who are concerned about putting their frontline workers in a potentially untenable position when dealing with customers."
There are some who believe that the new guidance will entice people to obtain fake vaccination cards. There are also apprehensions about revealing health information to private businesses.
Charles Boyle, a spokesman for Gov. Kate Brown (D), was asked if there would be penalties for businesses that allowed maskless customers entry without verifying their vaccination status, and he responded, "In the past year state agencies have issued fines for businesses that are out of compliance with health and safety guidance."
OHA director Patrick Allen said, "Masks continue to save lives and protect people who are not vaccinated. However, last week's announcement from the CDC emphasizes the point that safe and effective vaccines are the very best way to protect people from getting and spreading COVID. That's why it's safer for life to look more like normal for people who are fully vaccinated. And why people who haven't had a chance to get vaccinated should do so as soon as they can."
The new restrictions arrive at the same time that five counties in Oregon voted to leave the state and its left-leaning governance for a more conservative Idaho.