ONTARIO, Ore. — Most businesses in Idaho are relying on the honor code when customers without a mask say they are vaccinated, but that's not the case across the border in Oregon.
New guidance from Oregon Health Authority now requires businesses to check a customer's vaccine status if they want to relax their guidelines.
Restaurant owners like Jason Jugling, the owner of Plaza Inn in Ontario, wish the new health guidelines were clearer. Despite the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Jugling is still requiring masks to be worn in his establishment.
“I still have that masks are required on the front door and most of our customers, our community is so supportive and they’ve said, 'we will do what we have to do to keep your doors open,'” he said.
Under the new guidance, business owners have two options: require proof of vaccination for those who wish to unmask or simply leave the mask mandate in place.
“I would say probably 60 -70% of our customer base does come in with a mask," Jugling said. "30% probably don't and I’m not going to ask 30% if they don’t. I don’t have the time. I will take their word for it, I’m not going to ask to see their card.”
Sarah Poe, director of Malheur County Health Department, understands that some businesses might not apply the new interim guidance, but said ditching your mask without proof of vaccination is not an option in the state of Oregon.
“If somebody enters a building without a face covering there are supposed to be policies in place that they are stopped, they are offered a mask and if they are refused to wear a mask then they are refused services in person,” Poe said.
Violations of the new guidance can result in a Class C misdemeanor by the state, but the Malehuer County Health Department will respond first with an education-based approach, according to Poe.
“We still have a lot of cases around us and we have lost several people just in the last month," she said. "Unfortunately, it is not over, so this is an option. I feel like this is supposed to be a positive thing."
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