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Masks, face shields, and face coverings

Beginning March 12, 2022, state policies no longer require masks in most settings.*

* OSHA continues to enforce masking requirements applicable to Exceptional Risk (primarily healthcare) settings.

People with a disability or medical condition may request accommodation from a business, employer or public space regarding masking requirements.

This could include an accommodation to a policy requiring a mask as well as to a policy prohibiting a mask.

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

The law

Governor Brown's press release on indoor mask requirements.

Governor Brown's executive orders.

Oregon Health Authority webpage on Oregon mask requirements. OHA's frequently asked questions on mask requirements.

Oregon OSHA's COVID-19 resource page

Frequently asked questions

On the job

Beginning March 12, 2022, masks are no longer required by state policy in most settings.*

* OSHA continues to enforce masking requirements applicable to Exceptional Risk (primarily healthcare) settings.

Employees with a disability or a medical condition should inform their employer if they need an accommodation to a mask policy.

Employer Accommodation 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 a policy requiring 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.
  • Remote work or work in areas of the facility away from the public may also be options.
  • An exception to a policy prohibiting the use of a mask or face covering.

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 971-361-8400; 711 (TTY) or

For the public

Beginning March 12, 2022, masks are no longer required by state policy in most settings.*

* OSHA continues to enforce masking requirements applicable to Exceptional Risk (primarily healthcare) settings.

Individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a mask, face covering or face shield can request an accommodation to enable full and equal access to services, transportation and facilities open to the public.

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.

Where a business, employer or faith institution continues a policy of requiring face coverings, modifications to the policy 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 amask, face shield, and face covering requirement 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, and highlight 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 in accordance with the organization's policy they may 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.