▶️ Central Oregon businesses hit with 80+ mask complaints in 2 weeks

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To mask, or not to mask?

Some Central Oregon businesses still view it as a question, not a mandate.

More than 80 Central Oregon businesses received mask-related complaints to Oregon OSHA in August.

Gyms, grocery stores, restaurants, and a variety of other businesses were included on a list of more than 1,000 complaints to Oregon OSHA statewide.

Some local employees said they’re happy to comply.

“For the most part, all of the businesses and shops downtown are enforcing the mandate,” said Maisie Paine, who works at The Bend Store, “The people of Bend have been really great and overwhelmingly really awesome about their masks.”

“I would much rather wear a mask and keep our doors open than have our businesses close down,” said Michelle Krohn, who works at Desperado.

But for those who may resist…

“If we get the sense that an employer is refusing to engage with us or not interacting with us truthfully or thoughtfully that’s certainly going to increase the likelihood of an on-site inspection,” Oregon OSHA Public Information Officer Aaron Corvin said.

In a non-pandemic year, Oregon OSHA sees an average of around 2,000 complaints.

They’ve seen more than half that number in just the past two weeks.

“A complaint is really just a tip,” Corvin said. “It includes usually an alleged on-the-job hazard, so someone is alleging something is wrong in their workplace.”

When complaints are filed, Oregon OSHA connects with employers, using on-site inspections as a last resort.

Everything’s driven by the facts, we have to gather facts, we have to interview people, interview supervisors, employees, check training records, safety protocols, so there’s a process involved,” Corvin added.

They’ve issued at least 188 citations since the start of the pandemic, out of the more than 24,000 complaints they’ve received in the state.

“Most employers want to do the right path and they’re trying to do the right thing,” he said. “People saying ‘we’re not going to comply’, so on and so forth, it’s been our experience that it’s mostly a vocal minority in play.”

Central Oregon Daily News reached out to six of the businesses who received complaints, but none were available to talk today.

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