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Masks, face shields, and face coverings

Masks, face shields and face coverings are currently required statewide for people age 5 and older

  • All private and public workplaces — for example banks, classrooms, construction sites, offices and meeting rooms — unless someone is alone in an office or in a private workspace.
  • Indoor public spaces — for example grocery stores, pharmacies, public transit, personal services providers, restaurants, bars and retail stores.
  • Public and private colleges and universities, and private career schools.
  • Indoor and outdoor markets and street fairs.
  • Outdoor public spaces when physical distancing of at least six feet is not possible.

People with a disability or medical condition may request accommodation from a business or public space if they cannot wear a mask.

The Oregon Health Authority does not recommend wearing a plastic face shield alone. While face shields can be very good at blocking droplets, they are not as good at stopping aerosols that can go around the shield. OHA recommends face shields only be used on a limited basis, for example when talking to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and needs to read lips to communicate.

NOTE: This guidance is subject to change based on new information. Please check back frequently. 

The law

More information about Governor Brown's executive order here.

Frequently asked questions

On the job

Employees with a disability or a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering should inform their employer that they cannot safely wear a face covering.

Employer Requirements

Oregon employers have a duty to respond to a request for a reasonable accommodation for a disability or medical condition in a meaningful, interactive way. While an employer may require documentation of the disability or medical condition, an interactive process could be as simple as a productive conversation to identify what changes would allow the employee to keep working. Unless it creates an undue hardship, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a known disability or medical condition.

Reasonable Accommodations for Employees

Regarding face coverings, a number of accommodations might permit an employee to continue to do their job. Reasonable accommodations must be specifically tailored to the essential functions of the job and the accommodation needs of the employee.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Use of an alternate face covering. Face coverings are not limited to masks. A cloth face covering or a face shield (a clear plastic shield that covers the forehead, extends below the chin, and wraps around the sides of the face) may accommodate the limitations of a specific disability or medical condition and continue to provide infection control depending on the workplace.
  • Current requirements do not apply where the employee is not interacting with the public and six (6) or more feet of distance can be maintained at all times between people.
  • Remote work or work in areas of the facility away from the public may also be options.
  • Questions about Reasonable Accommodations

    Employees (or even applicants) who are denied a request for reasonable accommodation should contact BOLI’s Civil Rights Division at 971-673-0764; 711 (TTY) or

    Employers with questions about their obligations to accommodate a disability should contact BOLI’s Technical Assistance for Employers program at 971-673-0824; 711 (TTY) or

    For the public

    Oregon businesses and those responsible for indoor spaces must inform customers and visitors about the Governor’s requirement to wear a mask, face shield, or face covering.

    Business Requirements

    Businesses should be familiar with the circumstances in which masks, face shields or face coverings are not required:

    • While eating or drinking.
    • When at a business or indoor space open to the public and engaged in an activity when wearing a mask, face shield or face covering is not feasible, such as strenuous physical exercise, or performers singing or playing an instrument. For these activities people must maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from others. 
    • For children under the age of five (5) though they are recommended for children over the age of two (2).
    Any place that is open to the public must also take steps to ensure goods and services are accessible to people unable to wear a mask, face shield, or face covering because of disability or medical condition. An individual who is unable to wear a face covering because of a disability or medical condition is entitled to certain reasonable accommodations, but that does not necessarily mean it will be the accommodation of the customer’s choice. Businesses should be creative in how they accommodate individual customers with disabilities on a one-on-one basis while upholding the safety of their employees and other customers and working within their business’s needs and constraints.

    Modifications for Customers
    Accommodations in a public setting are known as modifications. Modifications could include providing goods and services at the door, sidewalk or curb; providing home delivery; or relocating activities to accessible locations.

    Other modifications could include:
  • Asking the person what the business could or should do to accommodate them (they may have given the matter some considerable thought);
  • Asking the customer to order off the menu or provide a shopping list to have a staff member fill the order;
  • Asking someone who needs to read lips or facial expressions to communicate to come outside or to a more sparsely-occupied/well-ventilated area to have the conversation from at least 6 feet away, use a small dry erase board that is disinfected between uses to communicate back and forth, or have a readily available speech to text app on a cell phone or tablet while maintaining physical distancing and disinfection practices;
  • Providing special business hours limited to individuals who cannot safely wear a mask, face shield or face covering to ensure at least 6 feet of distance between them and anyone else while inside;
  • Providing customers or visitors free masks, face coverings or face shields.
  • Enforcing the Requirement

    Best practices for enforcing the mask, face shield, and face covering requirements include:

    Educating employees on barriers to wearing face coverings for some individuals. This education should include disability etiquette, which includes engaging respectfully and in a non-confrontational manner. Disability etiquette training is offered by the NW ADA Center.

    Posting prominent signage visible prior to entry letting everyone know about the requirement. OHA’s sample signage is available online and highlights that accommodations for people with a disability or medical condition are available.

    Provide signage and information in languages that customers and visitors use, and in large print format.

    Businesses should post their phone number to alert the public about the best person to call to discuss a reasonable accommodation.

    Communicate your commitment to provide accommodations through social media, email lists, and your website.

    Assigning staff to the entryway to help with any needed arrangements. All employees should know who to contact when someone has an accommodation need. Someone responsible for responding to accommodation issues should be available at all times that the business is open.

    If someone indicates that they cannot safely wear a mask, face shield or face covering, a business should NOT ask questions or request documentation of the disability or medical condition. The only question a business may ask is whether someone has a disability or medical condition that prevents them from safely wearing a mask, face shield or face covering. 

    Instead, engage the person in a discussion about how the business might accommodate their needs while protecting the health and safety of other customers and employees. Options could include any of the sample modifications listed above.

    If an individual indicates that they do not have a relevant medical condition or disability (or refuses to answer) but refuses to wear a mask, face shield or face covering, Oregon OSHA recommends that they should be politely told that the organization cannot serve them and that they need to leave the premises. Under no circumstances should the business, organization or their representative attempt to physically block an individual from entering or physically remove an individual from the premises. If an individual refuses to leave, the organization should follow whatever procedures would normally be used if an individual refuses to leave the establishment when asked to do so.

    BOLI’s Civil Rights Division responds to reports of businesses or organizations that will not offer reasonable, alternative means to access services for people with disabilities or medical conditions that prevent them from safely wearing a mask, face shield or face covering.

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