PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - By now, many Oregonians have heard about Gov. Kate Brown’s new plan to allow businesses, venues and places of worship in “low-risk” counties to serve more people.
It’s an option to create separate sections for those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t. The idea is that unvaccinated people would be required to be socially distant and masked, while vaccinated individuals would be free to gather closely without their masks.
“We will see an effect of really separating people,” said Aimee Huff, an assistant professor of marketing at the College of Business at Oregon State University, during an interview Wednesday.
The Trail Blazers will use the option at its home game at the Moda Center on Thursday, offering a section of seating for vaccinated fans and another section for those who are unvaccinated.
Businesses in qualifying counties can do the same thing.
“The next few weeks are going to be really interesting,” Huff said. “I think there’s going to be a wide range of customer response to this – some will be enthusiastic, and others will outright reject it.”
“The bigger context here is that this is highly political for many people and it’s of high consequence,” Huff added. “Transmitting or contracting COVID is highly consequential.”
FOX 12 asked people out shopping and dining, what they think about the new option to divide people by vaccination status.
“I don’t necessarily agree with it because I think it separates people from the vaccinated and non-vaccinated people,” Susan Kaseberg said. “I would think it would start to feel like you are separating people out.”
FOX 12 also met one couple wondering what separate seating --or even vaccine passports – would mean for them.
“I had Guillain Barre Syndrome and it’s an autoimmune disease that left me pretty much completely paralyzed, and so you can’t get flu shots and you shouldn’t get COVID vaccine shots because it can cause reoccurrences of Guillian Barre Syndrome,” said Lee Spurgeon.
Because of his condition, Spurgeon hasn’t received the vaccine doses, but his wife, Colleen is fully vaccinated.
“If we went someplace where they divided us – where I’m vaccinated so I have to sit over there – and he’s not – so he has to sit over there?” Colleen Spurgeon said. “That’s not going to work either.”
“What’s he supposed to do? Carry around a little note from the doctor saying he can’t get the shot?” Spurgeon wondered incredulously.
The latest shift in Oregon rules is again leaving people and businesses with mixed feelings, confusion and uncertainty about ramifications.
“What we expect to see, is that some segments of shoppers will intentionally seek out businesses whose vaccine policies align with their own individual preferences around the vaccine and political ideologies,” Huff said.