▶️ Businesses say policing vaccinations, masks will be ‘incredibly difficult’

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A sign outside of Newport Avenue Market that reads “masks still required” makes the store’s current policy clear.

“We as grocery stores are holding and requiring our customers and our employees to continue to wear masks with us until we get further guidance,” Lauren Johnson, CEO and President of Rudy’s Markets, which owns Newport, said.

Newport is just one business in Bend awaiting further direction from the Oregon Health Authority regarding what businesses should require from customers, after Gov. Brown said Thursday fully vaccinated Oregonians no longer need to wear masks or socially distance in public.

Johnson said all customers have worn masks today without complaint. But Johnson is concerned about the possibility of implementing new policies in the future.

State Health Officer and Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said Friday that the OHA is setting up guidance for businesses regarding how to check a customer’s vaccination status.

“It will be incredibly difficult for not just our business but other businesses as well to police our customers,” Johnson said.

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General Manager Liz Boisinaeu Odell of Lark in downtown Bend agrees, enforcing mask wearing for those who are unvaccinated may be a challenge.

“It puts my staff in a weird situation that they have to patrol,” Boisinaeu Odell said. “When we had to ask about masks at the beginning, it was kind of scary to go up to somebody and say, ‘hey can you put your mask on?’ We were never sure what the reaction was going to be. I feel like right now that is going to start again.”

Sunriver Rocks, a tour and rental business in Sunriver, is already posting signs in preparation for checking customers’ vaccination status.

“We will require proof of vaccination to enter Sunriver Rocks without a mask,” the sign reads. “Please wear your mask in and bring proof of vaccination to the counter.”

Many other businesses, though, are still scrambling to figure out what to do and what to require after the announcement.

“I have had other business owners here in the Old Mill come in and ask what my position and what our business is adopting as official, and it’s a little confusing,” Tye Krueger, owner of Confluence Fly Shop and Deep Canyon Outfitters Guide Service, said. “No one really knows for sure.”

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