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Oregon to enforce mask mandate

Restaurants, bars and other businesses in Oregon should be on the lookout for OLCC staff dropping by over the July 4 holiday.

In a press release from the governor’s office Friday, Gov. Kate Brown announced that she would be heightening enforcement for statewide measures on face coverings, social distancing and occupancy rules through OLCC conducted spot checks.

“We stand at a crossroads this weekend,” Brown said in the release. “We can either stop the spread of COVID-19, or infections and hospitalizations will rise across Oregon and I will reinstate restrictive measures in impacted counties and business sectors.”

In the announcement, Brown said OLCC staff, supported by OSHA field offices across the state, would be checking to see whether businesses and their customers are complying with COVID-19 safety requirements this weekend and in the future.

According to the release, OLCC inspectors have the power to issue citations, fines and Red Warning Notices — notices that shut down a business for willfully violating Brown’s executive orders.

Brown’s announcement comes as the state is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Oregon experienced a record high count Thursday of 375 new cases, and Friday saw 344 more new cases.

The governor also added eight Oregon counties — Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wasco — to the COVID-19 Watch List. According to the release, the spread of this virus in these counties has risen to alarming levels.

Earlier this week, Jackson and Josephine county health officials called on residents to party safely this holiday weekend. Jackson County Medical Director Jim Shames advised people to wear masks, wash hands and to bring their own food and drink to gatherings.