Governor Releases Phase One Reopening Guidance for Oregon Employers

By Christopher Morehead

On May 7, 2020, Governor Brown and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released a series of guidelines and resources concerning the prerequisites to “Reopen Oregon.” Among the guidelines, and of immediate interest to many Oregon employers, is the sector-specific guidance for industries that have been almost entirely, if not completely, shut down since March. The sector-specific guidelines for employers include “Personal Services,” “Restaurants, Bars, Breweries, Brewpubs, Wineries, Tasting Rooms, and Distilleries,” and “Retail.”

Notably, these guidelines will apply to employers in these respective industry sectors during “Phase One” of the Governor’s Reopen Oregon plan. Importantly, Phase One will not necessarily start on the same date across the state. Rather, Phase One will start as early as May 15, but likely only for rural counties that meet various prerequisites that are assessed at the county level, the “health region” level, and the statewide level. Employers within these sectors who are located in the more densely populated counties will likely have to wait longer before they may reopen under these guidelines.

Employers within these sectors – regardless of the date they are ultimately permitted to reopen – should review the guidelines and requirements closely. As a starting point, employers should review the General Guidance for Employers. As for the sector-specific guidelines, they include various other operational restrictions and newly-implemented social distancing measures, including:

Personal Services (e.g., salons, barbers):

  • Mandatory trainings and education for sanitation and PPE to all employees;
  • Requirement to immediately send home employees exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, and prohibiting their return for at least 72 hours after symptoms have resolved without medication;
  • Mandatory pre-appointment health checks;
  • Prohibit congregation in breakrooms;
  • Provide face coverings for employees when providing direct client service;
  • Consider implementing temperature checks before each employee begins their shift (and sending home anyone with a temperature over 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit); and
  • Consider providing employees medical grade masks and face shields.

Restaurants, Bars, Breweries, Brewpubs, Wineries, Tasting Rooms, Distilleries:

  • Provide cloth, paper, or disposable face coverings for employees and require employees to wear them;
  • Encouraged to assign a greeter or host to manage customer flow and monitor distancing while customers wait in line and order, and during exiting process;
  • Encouraged to assign employees to monitor customer access to common areas such as restrooms;
  • “Strongly” encourage all customers to wear face coverings; and
  • Encourage posting of “clear signs” listing COVID-19 symptoms and asking employees with symptoms to stay home. (Note: Employers should adopt a rule mandating that employees who have symptoms will be sent home).


  • Provide cloth, paper, or disposable face coverings for employees, and require employees to wear them;
  • Limit the number of customers in the store and determine maximum occupancy to maintain at least six feet of physical distancing; and
  • Encourage employees to wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after handling items while processing returns.

Of course, many of these requirements and recommendations may create their own set of issues, including challenges relating to employee (and, in some cases, customer) rights under various state and federal employment and public accommodations laws.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will continue to provide more updates and guidance in the next weeks through alerts and our weekly Labor & Employment COVID-19 webinars. Employers with questions about navigating these legitimate legal issues should contact their employment counsel.

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