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The CDC recommendation surprised virtually everybody and left states wondering what direction to give businesses

These next few weeks will be interesting, particularly for the roughly 40% of Oregonians who are fully vaccinated and cleared to shed their masks at most locations.

The CDC recommendation surprised virtually everybody and left states wondering what direction to give businesses and operators of other public places that have up to this point required all people to wear masks. Were they expected to follow the honor system? — "Yep, I'm vaccinated." Should they figure out a way to verify it? — "Let's see your vaccination card." Or do they just keep on requiring masks for everybody, which the CDC said businesses and other public places are free to do?

Oregonians spent a few days in limbo. News of certain national big-box stores dropping mask mandates conflicted with Oregon locations continuing to require them. People could be found over the weekend in shopping centers sans mask, but other people were left to wonder whether they were vaccinated or not. Locally, public health official Vicky Ryan encountered a lot of speculation, comments and questions about the CDC recommendation and what it meant to Crook County.

This past Tuesday, five days after the CDC announcement, Oregonians finally got their answer. The Oregon Health Authority will require businesses and other public places to continue requiring masks — unless that location has a plan in place to verify the vaccination of people before entering.

Things just got really interesting. What happens now? Will businesses and other public venues develop a plan and designate some vaccine police to ensure no unvaccinated folks go rogue in their space? If they do, will people be willing to share that information every place they go – will the novelty of going mask-less be worth it? What about places that SAY they're checking, but opt for the honor system? Will some locations just drop mask requirements altogether and dare health or government officials to react? Shoot, businesses might decide none of it is worth the hassle and just stick to the status quo.

This will be an interesting time period as different public venues make their choices. It seems Oregon could end up with quite the patchwork of businesses with different mask rules. Fully vaccinated folks eager to live mask-free might want to keep their face coverings close at hand as this all shakes out. Or at least until the next big change happens, which the CDC recently proved can happen at any moment.


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