Workplace COVID-19 requirements lifted as Oregon hits reopening date

Oregon OSHA announced that it will remove the majority of its pandemic workplace rules now that Governor Kate Brown has lifted statewide restrictions.

Posted: Jun 30, 2021 12:55 PM
Updated: Jun 30, 2021 6:00 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Wednesday marked Governor Kate Brown's promised end for the majority of coronavirus restrictions, and Oregon OSHA announced that it has followed suit by removing most of the workplace requirements that applied to business owners throughout the state.

The OSHA change means that all facial covering and distancing requirements are gone effective immediately, with a few aforementioned exceptions — healthcare settings, public transit, and airports. There are a few other requirements that will remain in place for all Oregon businesses as well.

"For the rule addressing all workplaces, examples of measures that will remain in place longer include optimization of ventilation, notification of a positive case in the workplace, and proper steps to take if an employee must quarantine," OSHA said.

Rules applying to employer-provided housing for bed placement and use of air purifiers will also remain in place. OSHA said that it will continue to meet with stakeholders to consider "the eventual full repeal" of COVID-19 requirements.

“It is heartening to see that we have come so far and are experiencing an improving situation,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “But the risks remain real – especially for those who are not fully vaccinated. That is why, from a risk management standpoint, it makes sense to keep some provisions of our workplace requirements in place longer.”

The Oregon Beverage Alliance — a lobbying group for local breweries, wineries, and distilleries — breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday, but issued a statement underlining the harm to the industry that coronavirus restrictions caused.

“Closures and restrictions due to COVID-19 had a devastating impact on Oregon’s breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, restaurants, bars and hospitality sector. Thousands of jobs were lost and many more would have been if lawmakers had raised taxes on these local businesses,” said the Oregon Beverage Alliance. “With business models flipped upside down, it will take years for Oregon’s breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries to recover economically."

The lobby estimates that Oregon has lost more than 10,000 wine-related and 3,000 beer-related jobs since the pandemic began. The hospitality as a whole lost roughly 50,000 jobs.

Governor Kate Brow held a reopening celebration at Providence Park in Portland on Tuesday, an event meant to commemorate the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions across the state. Brown's office brought in a mix of attendees hailing from groups on the frontlines of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic to participate in the event.

“Today, we celebrate Oregon’s strength, resilience, and collaboration,” said Governor Brown in an address to the celebration attendees. “We celebrate brighter days ahead. And, today we celebrate that Oregon is 100% open for business.

“I look forward to seeing Oregon’s restaurants and mainstreet businesses flourish as vibrant community cornerstones. We are all excited to celebrate the July 4th holiday weekend with family and friends. And I smile at the thought of our children going back to the classroom, five days a week this fall.

“This is truly a historic moment for our state. However, while we enter a new chapter today, our work is far from over.

“We will be relentless in our efforts to finish the job, closing our equity gaps, and reaching every Oregonian with information and vaccines. That means we need to continue this education effort, person to person, neighbor to neighbor. We remain fiercely committed in our efforts to build a more just and equitable, and a safer and stronger Oregon.

“Thank you, Oregon, for everything you’ve done to look out for one another and bring us to this day.”

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