Oregon considers ‘permanent rule’ on face masks, forcing pandemic restrictions indefinitely

Meanwhile, other states are lifting mask mandates altogether

Many states across the United States have rescinded their pandemic-related mandate requiring residents to wear face masks because the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly effective in combatting the virus.

A top Oregon health official is considering a “permanent rule,” according to the Associated Press, mandating social distancing and the use of face masks inside workplaces indefinitely.

Current regulations expire on May 4, but Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health, reportedly wants to alter state regulations to extend the mandate until “revised or repealed.”

The proposal only promises to repeal the permanent rule once officials no longer deem face masks necessary.

Although the rule must be adopted as a permanent rule, its purpose is to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon OSHA intends to repeal the rule when it is no longer necessary to address that pandemic. Because it is not possible to assign a specific time for that decision, Oregon OSHA will consult with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, the Oregon Health Authority, and other stakeholders as circumstances change to determine when all or part of the rule can be appropriately repealed.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Wood said, the AP reported.

Wood claimed the proposal is “driven by the pandemic, and it will be repealed,” but admitted “it might not need to go away at exactly the same time the state of emergency is lifted.”