COVID-19 spread mitigation rules become permanent in Oregon, marking a new first in COVID-19 related regulations
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA) has recently made COVID-19 spread mitigation regulations permanent. This change, enacted on May 4, 2021, makes permanent rules that were previously temporary. These spread mitigation rules cover physical distancing requirements, the use of face coverings, regular sanitation, and many other COVID-19 requirements.
“The public health emergency triggered by COVID-19 remains a significant concern in Oregon—as we know, we have not yet defeated this disease and we clearly will not have done so by the time the temporary rule expires. As a result, it is critically important that we carry forward measures that we know are effective at combating the spread of this disease and reducing risks in the workplace,” said Michael Wood, Administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Failure to do so will undoubtedly leave workers far less protected and leave employers with far less clarity and certainty in terms of what is expected of them.”
Oregon OSHA says that the rationale behind making COVID-19 rules permanent must be adopted because the rules could not be extended under a temporary status. It remains unclear, however, at what point the permanent rules would be rescinded, and no sunset provision was included that would end the permanent rule at a specific time.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to drop across the United States, it remains to be seen what the lasting societal impacts of COVID-19 will be. If COVID-19 concerns continue over a long-term basis, even as case numbers decrease, it could indicate that the demand for COVID-19 testing will continue even when its prevalence has diminished.