Oregon Governor Loosens Restrictions Following ‘Permanent’ Mask Mandate Proposal

This past Tuesday, Kate Brown, Democratic Governor of Oregon, announced that the state plans to loosen its pandemic restrictions and allow “indoor full-contact sports” to start back up after a few members of her administration set forth a proposal of a “permanent” mask mandate earlier in the week.

The office of the governor and the Oregon Health Authority stated that the loosening of pandemic restrictions is being carried out for the purpose of recognizing “the importance of athletics for the physical and mental health of Oregon’s youth athletes,” Even though the new rules apply to people of all ages.

The Oregonian reported, “Low-contact indoor sports already were permitted, but the new rules for the first time since last spring will allow Oregonians of all ages to engage in indoor basketball, cheerleading, wrestling and water polo, among other sports, according to the health authority.”

The state’s new guidelines for such activities are separated into different tiers based on levels of risk for each county involved. This past Tuesday, Governor Brown pushed out an update for the county risk levels under the current health framework for the state. In a press release stated, “The framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on COVID-19 spread—Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk—and assigns health and safety measures for each level.”

As reported by The Oregonian, “Brown said earlier this month that no county would be deemed ‘extreme risk’ and experience the toughest public health measures — including prohibitions on indoor dining at restaurants and bars — until hospitalizations reached 300 patients with a 15% increase in the seven-day average in the previous week.”

The plan to allow the resuming of indoor full-contact sports pops up after the governor made news outlet headlines this past week when a member of her administration put forth the idea of imposing a “permanent” mask-wearing mandate due to the fact that the current regulations in place are set to expire next month.

The Daily Wire reported:

Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Department, has floated a proposal to keep masking requirements in place until “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.” Wood said that the new “permanent” rule is needed to keep the current regulations from expiring, according to The Associated Press.

The proposal has sparked opposition from the state’s Republican lawmakers. State Sen. Kim Thatcher ripped Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s administration for floating the proposal and throwing additional uncertainty at business owners.

“When will masks be unnecessary? What scientific studies do these mandates rely on, particularly now that the vaccine is days away from being available to everyone?” Thatcher said. “Businesses have had to play ‘mask cop’ for the better part of a year now. They deserve some certainty on when they will no longer be threatened with fines.”

Wood said he plans to make a decision on the new mandate before the current provision expires on May 4.”

The “permanent” mask mandate received a large amount of disapproval. Led by Wood, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division got over 5,000 comments on the potential new mandate in the short public comment period window.

“The majority of comments were simply hostile to the entire notion of COVID-19 restrictions,” Wood stated. “The vast majority of comments were in the context of, ‘You never needed to do anything.'”

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