SALEM – Polk County is one of seven counties where people must wear masks when in certain indoor public spaces starting today (June 24).

Gov. Kate Brown issued guidance for businesses and customers of those businesses on Thursday. The affected counties are: Polk, Marion, Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Hood River and Lincoln.

“As we learn more about COVID-19, evidence continues to mount that face coverings play a critical role in reducing transmission,” Brown said. “We have to live with this disease for a while. And that is going to require adjusting our habits –– taking the simple step of covering our nose and mouth in spaces where we interact with others.”

The guidance applies to businesses including grocery stores, gyms and fitness studios, pharmacies, public transit agencies, personal services providers, restaurants and bars, retail stores, shopping malls, and ride sharing services.

In counties that have entered Phase 2 of reopening, which Polk County did on Friday, the guidance also applies to swimming pools, indoor entertainment facilities, indoor venues, and indoor recreational sports facilities.

Under the new order, businesses must require employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, and visitors to wear a mask, face covering, or face shield unless an exemption applies.

For example, face coverings are not required in restaurants and bars while eating or drinking, or at swimming pools while swimming.

Children under 12 years of age, as well as people with a disability or a medical condition that prevent them from wearing a face covering, are not required to wear one.

However, it is strongly recommended that children between the ages of 2 and 12 wear a mask in places like grocery stores and pharmacy, where it may be difficult to keep and distance of 6 feet and vulnerable people must go. Young children should only wear masks under adult supervision.

Acceptable face coverings can be made of cloth, paper, or disposable, including bandanas and homemade masks.

Brown said asking Oregonians in the affected counties to wear masks protects others.

“We wear face coverings to protect the doctors and nurses working day and night in hospitals and clinics around the state. We wear them to protect our elderly neighbors. We wear them to protect kids in cancer treatment and people with compromised immune systems. We wear them to protect the grocery store clerk and the pizza delivery gal. We wear them because we don’t want to accidentally kill someone,” Brown said. “It’s really that simple. Face coverings save lives.”

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