masks

Masked visitors stroll along Brooks Alley in May 2021 during the Bend Farmers Market.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown lifted almost all of her COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on Wednesday, even though the state is just a fraction short of reaching her 70% vaccination goal. As of late Tuesday, the official tally was 69.4%.

Brown's social distancing requirements and capacity limits are now gone, meaning restaurants, theaters and entertainment venues can return to full indoor capacities and normal closing times. Brown's mask mandates also went away, although there are exceptions for federal rules — masks will still be required at airports, public transportation and healthcare settings.

Also on Wednesday, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health removed the facial covering and physical distancing requirements of its COVID-19 rule for workplaces, with the same exceptions for transportation and healthcare settings. The changes do not prevent businesses from choosing require masks or distancing as long as they do so according to public health guidelines are mindful of accommodations for people with disabilities, according to an announcement from OSHA. 

Yet, even as vaccinations continue to slow the overall spread of COVID-19, health officials caution that COVID-19 will continue to pose a risk to people who have not yet been fully vaccinated or cannot get vaccinated as the virus morphs into more contagious and thus more deadly forms. Oregon health officials urge anyone who hasn't been vaccinated against COVID-19 to seek a local health center for a vaccine. 

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