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Gov. Inslee Changes Course in Washington, Unmasking Only for Vaccinated Persons; Oregon and Washington Revised Requirements Begin Today

June 30, 2021

By Heather J. Van Meter

Washington Update

Late on June 29, Washington Gov. Inslee reversed course and will only permit the general public to go without masks if they are fully vaccinated. This means customers in stores and visitors inside businesses can only be unmasked if they are fully vaccinated. However, Gov. Inslee has not required business owners to confirm customer or visitor vaccination status, so the “honor system” still applies to the general public. Physical distancing requirements and capacity limitations such as on bars and restaurants are no longer mandatory as of June 30 (except for some indoor gatherings over 10,000 people). Masks and other additional requirements still apply to schools, healthcare facilities, childcare facilities, correctional facilities, and similar specific types of operations for the time being. 

The federal requirement for masking on all public transportation and at airports remains in effect.

Private businesses and offices may still choose to require customers and visitors to wear masks, physically distance, or continue other precautions. For example, a restaurant or store can still require masks for all customers and visitors if it so chooses. 

For Washington workplaces and employers, L&I issued updated information on June 30; however, the workplace and employer requirements largely remain unchanged from last month’s revisions. Workplaces and employers may only allow vaccinated workers to go without masks indoors and must confirm and document vaccination status through one of the suggested methods. Employers must still provide masks for employees and allow employees to wear masks even if not required if they choose to do so. Employers can also choose to require all workers to wear masks, physically distance, or continue other precautions as requested by the employer. See L&I’s current guidance here.

Oregon Update

In Oregon, effective June 30, Gov. Brown has rescinded the emergency orders requiring masking and physical distancing requirements as well as capacity limits in most public settings. The emergency order rescissions apply to vaccinated as well as unvaccinated persons. 

Additionally, effective June 30, Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA) revised its rules (OAR 437-001-0744) to drop the masking and physical distancing requirements at workplaces except for healthcare and other exceptional risk settings. This means employers can choose to allow employees to go without masks and physical distancing as of today. However, employees may still choose to wear masks or respirators, and employers must allow employees to do so. OR-OSHA also dropped the special requirements for many particular worksites, including bars and restaurants, retail stores, construction, gyms, and sports events, meaning these locations and events have no special requirements. 

Importantly, other OR-OSHA restrictions continue unchanged for workplaces and employers. OR-OSHA issued permanent rules relating to COVID precautions a few weeks ago; see our prior alert here. Other than eliminating the masking and physical distancing requirements, these permanent rules have not been changed. Meaning, employers must maintain cleaning and sanitation procedures, including providing employees with cleaning supplies and time for cleaning, HVAC maintenance, COVID-19 risk assessment and infection control plan implementation, notification to employees of exposure occurrences, and other remaining requirements. 

Like Washington, Oregon still has masking and physical distancing requirements in some special settings, such as healthcare facilities and schools. Updated school guidance from the state Department of Education is expected in the coming weeks, ahead of the start of school in the Fall.

The federal requirement for masking on all public transportation and at airports remains in effect.

As in Washington, Oregon private businesses and offices may still choose to require customers and visitors to wear masks, physically distance, or continue other precautions. For example, a restaurant or store can still require masks for all customers and visitors if it so chooses. 

For more information on how these changes affect your workplace, contact Bullard Law.  



The content of this Alert is provided for general information purposes only. It should not be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for consulting an attorney for legal advice
 

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