SALEM, OR (KPTV) - Following an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state of Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has announced a statewide enforcement on face masks, physical distancing, and occupancy standards in place at businesses during the Fourth of July weekend.
Staff from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), supported by Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) field offices, will be conducting spot checks and inspections across the state during the holiday weekend.
Gov. Brown's office said the effort is to "ensure restaurants, bars, other businesses, and their patrons are complying with state alcohol laws, OLCC rules, and the requirement to wear a face masks in indoor public spaces."
Businesses that refuse to comply could be issued citations, fines, and Red Warning Notices if necessary, according to Gov. Brown's office.
"I am asking Oregonians this holiday weekend to take urgent steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings, avoiding large gatherings, and physically distancing," said Gov. Brown. "And state enforcement agencies will be out in force to ensure businesses are in compliance. Those businesses not complying with gathering size limits, face covering requirements, physical distancing rules, and other standards face stiff penalties."
The new effort comes after the Oregon Health Authority reported 375 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. This was the state's highest daily count since the pandemic began.
Gov. Brown also added eight counties to a "watch list" for COVID-19: Jefferson, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wasco.
According to Gov. Brown's office, the spread of the coronavirus in those counties has "risen to alarming levels in recent weeks."
OHA attributed the rising levels in cases to community spread, meaning the infections are not attributable to a specific location or event.
Counties on the watch list will be monitored over the coming days. Gov. Brown's office said restrictive measures may be put in place if the counties do not see a downturn quickly.
"We stand at a crossroads this weekend––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," Gov. Brown said.
A news release from Gov. Brown's office stated that the increased enforcement by the OLCC and OSHA would run through the holiday weekend and "thereafter." No more was mentioned on the timeline of enforcement.
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