On Tuesday, Oregon released new guidance that will allow people to go maskless outside but will require them to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — and can prove it — to forgo masks in most public indoor settings.

To prevent the unvaccinated from walking around unmasked, Oregon health officials are now creating a caste system by marking the unvaxxed lepers.

“Businesses, employers and faith institutions now have the option to adjust their masking guidance to allow fully vaccinated individuals to no longer wear a mask in their establishments,” OHA’s website said. “Businesses, employers, and faith institutions doing so must have a policy in place to check the vaccination status of all individuals before they enter their establishment. Businesses, employers and faith institutions who do not create such policies will maintain the same masking guidance listed below, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.”

Jason Brandt, the president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the guidance creates a fresh dilemma for service industry businesses that have found it hard to enforce the state’s mask mandate when customers refuse to comply.

“We’re talking about businesses being in a more challenging environment where they have to determine how much they want to act as the vaccination police or not,” Brandt said.

Brandt believes that most restaurants and hotels will maintain their current mask requirement for all customers, rather than trying to identify and exclude people who haven’t been vaccinated.

Per the state’s guidelines, people must wear a mask when entering or moving around a restaurant but can remove it when they are actively eating and drinking, whether they are vaccinated or not.

Brandt said businesses have little incentive to adopt a complicated new vaccine screening policy that could irritate part of their clientele — and change soon as more Oregonians are vaccinated. Gov. Kate Brown has promised to reopen most of the state’s economy in June if the state reaches a target of 70% of Oregonians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Please have patience and grace for restaurant workers who are doing everything they can to provide you with an enjoyable dining experience,” Brandt said. “And number two, let’s all do our part to encourage our friends and family to get vaccinated and put this dark chapter behind us.”

Oregon Business and Industry also expressed concerns about the practicality of requiring businesses to verify the vaccination status of members of the public.

“Our top priority has always been public safety, which not only includes stopping the spread of COVID but also minimizing potential conflict between business owners, their employees, and members of the public. We hope that is a consideration,” said Sandra McDonough, President & CEO of OBI, in a written statement.

Small business also expressed their opinion last week and said that they wouldn’t feel comfortable verifying customers’ vaccination statuses. And Oregon’s Enchanted Forest amusement park announced Monday that it would delay its reopening plans after some people responded to its decision to continue to require masks with threats and angry comments.

Watch it here: KGW8


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