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Oregon considers making mask mandate permanent, infuriating residents

The proposal has garnered significant criticism as other states ease mask mandates as vaccinations grow.

Updated: April 18, 2021 - 7:08pm

Oregon is considering indefinitely mandating masks and social distancing in all businesses, cutting an opposite path from other states that are easing pandemic rules as vaccinations grow.

The liberal state would keep the rules in force until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace,” according to the proposal.

Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health, told The Associated Press the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a “permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said. 

Wood’s effort has generated significant backlash, including a petition with 60,000 signatures.

“When will masks be unnecessary? What scientific studies do these mandates rely on, particularly now that the vaccine is days away from being available to everyone?” Republican state Sen. Kim Thatcher asked. “Businesses have had to play ‘mask cop’ for the better part of a year now. They deserve some certainty.”