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Restaurant workers not required to wear masks, gloves

I read a blog the other day from a former elected official in Jackson County who went to a local fast-food outlet to get a pickup meal. He was shocked to see the people fixing the food were working without gloves or masks. Is this a violation of Gov. Brown’s orders?

— John

Restaurant workers are not required to wear masks or gloves under state COVID-19 regulations, said Chad Petersen, environmental health manager for Jackson County Health & Human Services, which does restaurant inspections.

“It’s up to individual restaurants to make wearing masks a policy,” he said. “I’m seeing it more frequently each week.”

Restaurant workers can also choose to wear masks if their employer is not requiring masks on the job, Petersen said.

Workers don’t have to wear gloves, but they do have to wash their hands frequently, even during normal times.

“Sometimes people are surprised restaurant workers are not required to wear gloves, but gloves can give a false sense of security,” Petersen said.

People wearing gloves may still touch their faces, contaminated surfaces and other things that could transmit illness-causing bacteria and viruses, he said.

Restaurants in Oregon are only allowed to offer takeout and delivery of food. Dining inside restaurants is banned.

The state, scientists, industry representatives and others are working on draft plans for the gradual reopening of Oregon’s economy, including the resumption of dining inside restaurants.

Guidelines that are still in draft form and subject to change could require restaurant workers to wear gloves when cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, but not for other activities.

The draft guidelines note wearing gloves for activities that might overlap with food handling can foster cross-contamination.

If a business chooses to have employees use gloves, they must prevent cross-contamination. For example, gloves would have to be replaced with new gloves if workers touch their faces or take out the garbage, the draft guidelines say.

Businesses may be asked to strongly encourage workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings. Customers wouldn’t be required to wear masks while seated at tables, according to the draft guidelines.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.