Board adopts rule to enforce mask mandate
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Board of County Commissioners approve local enforcement of statewide mask mandate
On August 24, 2021, the Washington County Board of Commissioners, acting in their role as Local Public Health Authority for Washington County, unanimously agreed to enact a new rule authorizing County Health and Human Services staff to enforce Oregon’s statewide mask mandates. The Board approved the rule as outlined in Oregon Revised Statutes which allow for local enforcement of statewide public health laws and adoption of civil penalties for violation of rules adopted by the local public health authority.
The Board action is in response to an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Washington County, primarily linked to the highly contagious Delta variant and those who are not yet vaccinated against the disease. As stated by Board Chair Kathryn Harrington, “The evidence is clear and compelling. Our community is in a dire situation and the Board has taken decisive action to ensure that all Washington County residents are protected from exposure to COVID-19 in public settings. The good news is that we have two powerful tools to fight the Delta variant surge. Mask wearing and vaccinations are absolutely the best ways to protect one another—especially our children and those with underlying health conditions that prevent them from getting the vaccine. We must all act with urgency to save lives and eliminate needless suffering.”
The new rule allows the Washington County Public Health Division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enforce all public health laws and rules as civil infractions in the manner described in Washington County Charter and Code. Violations will be considered a Class C Civil infraction, with a maximum fine of $500 per day for businesses.
After the first complaint, a business will receive a phone call and email explaining the mask guidance; after the second complaint the business receives a letter and email. If the County receives a third complaint staff will visit the business to verify the complaint. If the business is found to be in violation of the mandate, the County will forward the complaints and documentation to Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OR-OHSA). If the county receives a fourth complaint, Health and Human Services staff will issue a citation and impose fines. Complaints can be registered via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 503-846-8390.
For additional information about COVID-19, including the current statewide mask requirement and effective disease prevention strategies including where to receive vaccinations in your area, please visit www.co.washington.or.us/HHS/CommunicableDiseases/COVID-19/index.cfm.
Media Contact:Julie McCloud, Public Affairs & Communications Coordinator