Lake Oswego businesses err on side of caution with new mask rules
People are beginning to shed their masks as more community members receive COVID-19 vaccines.
However, on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Oregon Health Authority's recent announcements that vaccinated people no longer need to wear facial coverings in most indoor and outdoor spaces, some Lake Oswego businesses decided not to shift mask policies just yet.
In the latest guidance from OHA, issued Tuesday, May 18, businesses were advised that they could choose not to require masks or physical distancing — but only if they required customers to show proof of vaccination.
Stewart Dunis, one of the managers at Ace Hardware, said they are still requiring masks for folks entering their store in Lake Oswego but that eventually they will abide by local rulings.
"We want to err on the side of caution," Dunis said.
Similarly, New Seasons Market and Wilco are leaving their mask policies as is — at least for now.
"Since the start of the pandemic, we have reviewed guidance from federal, state and local health authorities to inform operational policies that prioritize the safety of our staff and customers. As examples, New Seasons was one of the first area retailers to introduce capacity limits and a mask policy in 2020," said Kim Rodgers with New Seasons in a statement to Pamplin Media Group. "Today, we simply do not have all the guidance we need yet in order to make an informed decision on this significant tenet of our COVID-19 policies."
At this time, Rodgers said the policy will remain in place until staff can fully assess the recent guidance published by OHA.
For updates on New Seasons' policies visit its website.
"Additionally, we are in the middle of hosting company-sponsored vaccination clinics, a program we started as staff experienced scheduling challenges through state-sponsored events. Additional events are scheduled in the weeks ahead, and we are also starting to see more local pharmacies with ample supply and open appointments," Rodgers said. "Maintaining our current policy ensures interested staff have all available opportunities to become vaccinated before we consider any shifts to a mask policy."
Jake Wilson, director of marketing and eCommerce for Wilco, said staff is still reviewing guidelines to determine their impacts on those working in the office, warehouse and the store, as well as customers, before changing mask requirements.
City Manager Martha Bennett said Lake Oswego has work to do before changing guidelines at the city level.
"The city is keeping our mask policies as they are until we've had a chance to update our policies and procedures," Bennett said.
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