Masks are required at all times, for staff, volunteers, clients, and everybody else at your location. All OFB partner agencies and programs must comply with these requirements.
It’s very important to us here at OFB that the people we serve can access food without putting themselves and their communities at risk of contracting COVID 19. We are also concerned for your own wellbeing, and that of all of the staff and volunteers at your agency or program.
With that in mind, we wanted to share the latest updates on mask requirements in Oregon, and to explain how they relate to your partnership with Oregon Food Bank.
As of November 18, 2020 masks are required statewide at all times unless you are:
- In your own residence or personal vehicle
- Under five (5) years of age.
- Engaged in an activity that makes wearing a mask not feasible, such as eating or drinking, taking a shower, or sleeping
- In a private, individual workspace.
What this means for your agency or program is that all staff and volunteers must wear a mask, face covering, or face shield at all times, whether or not clients are present. You also must require clients to wear masks when waiting for or accessing food at your site, unless you are operating a drive-up only distribution, in which case clients are exempt as long as they remain in their vehicles.
The state frequently uses the term “guidance” when talking about COVID 19 protocols, but it’s important to note that this latest set of guidelines come from an executive order that’s enforceable by law. Failure to comply with state regulations is a serious violation of your Oregon Food Bank Partner Agency agreement, and it can put your status as an OFB partner in jeopardy.
So please, be diligent in enforcing the mask requirement at your agency or program: protect the health and safety of your clients, staff, and volunteers, and protect your ability to continue serving communities in need.
A note about the effectiveness of plastic face shields
While wearing a face shield technically complies with the state requirement, the Oregon Health Authority and other experts strongly recommend against wearing a face shield instead of a mask or face covering. Face shields can be very good at blocking larger droplets when someone coughs or sneeze, but they are not effective at limiting the release of aerosols that can go around the shield, and they do almost nothing to protect the wearer.
Similarly, cloth face masks are only effective when worn properly. Wearing a mask that covers your mouth but not your nose is barely more effective than wearing no mask at all. Masks should cover your nose and mouth, be secured under your chin, and fit snugly against the sides of your face. And masks with exhalation vents or valves may help protect you, but they do little to protect others. For more information on proper mask wearing, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask can request an accommodation to enable full and equal access to your services.
This does not mean that you should simply let them access your program site without a mask. Reasonable modifications might include packing a food box and bringing it outside, or offering a delivery if that is a service that you provide. If you are a shopping style or client choice pantry, you could offer them a list of available foods and allow them to specify what they want before you pack their box.
If you have further questions about mask requirements or accommodations, please reach out to a member of the OFB compliance team or a representative from your Regional Food Bank. Thank you for your amazing efforts to continue serving your communities during this pandemic. We truly appreciate you.