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Just as It Looked Like State's Mask Mandate Would Be Gone Forever, Health Authority Meets to Draft 'Permanent' Set of Rules

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Oregon is still holding on to its indoor mask mandate, even for those who have been fully vaccinated. In fact, it’s looking like the state could make the mandate permanent.

On Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority convened a Rules Advisory Committee to discuss the mask requirement, KATU-TV in Portland reported.

The committee began drafting a permanent set of rules for masking.

Oregon’s indoor mask mandate is set to expire in February 2022, and the OHA wants to make the mandate more permanent before then, KGW-TV reported. The state’s outdoor mask mandate expired last month.

The OHA is allowing representatives from throughout the state’s economy, including the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and Oregon Business & Industry, to review the rules and give feedback on how they would affect different sectors and industries.

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There were concerns about just how feasible it will be for businesses to keep enforcing masks, especially since many other states have relaxed or ended their mask mandates.

“Getting people to comply is getting harder,” said Paloma Sparks of Oregon Business & Industry, according to KGW.

Dr. Paul Cieslak, the medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations with OHA, said extending the mask mandate does not necessarily mean it will never end.

“Permanent means indefinite. It doesn’t necessarily mean permanent. We can repeal it as well, but we are only allowed to have a temporary rule for 180 days, and anything that goes beyond 180 days, we cannot extend it,” Cieslak said, according to Fox News.

Should there still be indoor mask mandates?

Oregon, a reliably blue state that’s home to the progressive mecca of Portland, has some of the most restrictive COVID rules in the nation. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has seen 394,569 cases and 5,243 deaths, according to The New York Times.

The state’s decision to keep the mask mandate in place more permanently has elicited criticism from many.

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Rep. Chip Roy of Texas simply tweeted “Land of the free…” concerning Oregon’s decision.

The only other states or U.S. territories that still require masks regardless of vaccine status are Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, according to U.S. News & World Report. It said California, Connecticut and New York require unvaccinated people to wear masks.

Oregon and the other states and territories are undermining their messaging on the effectiveness of the vaccines by requiring vaccinated people to wear masks. In fact, this might even discourage people from getting vaccinated. Why get the vaccine if it doesn’t give you more freedom?

According to the Times, 64 percent of Oregon’s population is fully vaccinated. If health authorities want the whole state vaccinated, they should consider ending the universal mask mandate.

It’s also just a simple question of feasibility. How long does Oregon really think it can keep requiring all of its residents to wear masks?

Eventually, individuals will stop complying with and businesses will stop enforcing the mandate, whether it is “permanent” or not.

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Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.
Abby Liebing is a Hillsdale College graduate with a degree in history. She has written for various outlets and enjoys covering foreign policy issues and culture.




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