PORTLAND, Oregon — After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon and Washington reopened their economies on Wednesday, effectively ending most of the state's restrictions.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced last week her new executive order would lift capacity limits at businesses, restaurants and large events such as funerals, sporting events, concerts and weddings. The mask mandate also ends statewide. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced in mid-May that Washington state would roll back most restrictions on June 30.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the elimination of all face mask and physical distancing requirements for workplaces across the state, with the exception of health care facilities, public transit and airports.
Several of Oregon’s largest grocery store chains have already said they will drop the mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers on June 30, to match the state's reopening.
New Seasons said masks will no longer be required for customers starting Wednesday.
Safeway, Albertsons and Fred Meyer will also no longer require fully vaccinated customers or employees to wear masks starting Wednesday. They will not be checking vaccination statuses at the door. Unvaccinated store employees and unvaccinated customers will still be required to wear masks.
Businesses can still require customers to wear masks even if the state no longer requires them.
One store customer, Kiera Hulsey, said she was surprised by the impending change. Hulsey told KGW she wasn't aware of the news.
“What, I mean is even a world without masks now? Just got so accustomed to it,” said Hulsey.
Store customer Tonia Whiteside is like many who are excited for the change, but realize it might feel strange at first.
“Because at first I'm gonna be a little – there's gonna be a little bit of anxiety," Whiteside said. "Because we've been doing it for a year and I don't know how many months."
Brown spoke Wednesday morning at a "Reopening Oregon Celebration." Other speakers included Steve Bobb Sr. of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen, Dr. Judi Guzman-Cotrill of the OHSU Division of Infectious Diseases, Palomar owner Ricky Gomez and Meyer Memorial Trust Chief Investment Officer Ruikayah Adams.