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SALEM, Oregon, March 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — While some state have begun relaxing COVID-related restrictions, state health officials in Oregon have decided that now is the time to impose a “permanent” mask mandate until it is deemed “no longer necessary.”

A mask mandate has already been in place in Oregon since November 16, requiring all citizens to don a face covering when outside their home if they “may come within six (6) feet of distance with someone from outside their household.” Additionally, the mask requirement extends to ordering at a drive-through or any other place where one receives a delivery inside their vehicle.

Even after being vaccinated against COVID-19, the mandate still applies. It is a considered a Class C misdemeanour to violate it.

Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has now revealed plans to make the state-wide mask mandate a “permanent rule” in workplaces after the current regulations expire on May 4, extending the rule “until revised or repealed.” The OSHA clarified that the rule is to be adopted until it is deemed masking is “no longer necessary to address that pandemic.”

“Because it is not possible to assign a specific time for that decision, Oregon OSHA will consult with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, the Oregon Health Authority, and other stakeholders as circumstances change to determine when all or part of the rule can be appropriately repealed,” the proposal reads. As yet, no specific criteria have been offered which set out the conditions of such a revision or repeal of the rule.

As the state proposes strengthening mask rules, cases of positive tests for COVID in Oregon are falling. In fact, case numbers are now approximately half of what they were in November, when the mandate first came into being, dropping from 603 average positive tests that week to registering 281 positive cases in the week until March 23.

According to a report in The Federalist, Oregon’s mask mandate is becoming “progressively burdensome” on the population, forcing outdoor sports teams to wear masks by law “where the arbitrary measure of six-feet distancing cannot be guaranteed.”

The same report details a number of high school cross-country teams being required to wear masks while running, a practice which numerous coaches have decried as “dangerous.” Oregon’s rules stipulate that “masks be worn during all practices and competitions for high school sports. It’s a rule many coaches and runners are unhappy with, saying it’s difficult to competitively run 5,000 meters while masked.”

One such coach, Steve Richards, told the Register-Guard newspaper, “It’s hard as a coach to send your kids out there. There’s been a lot of theorizing about the health risks between wearing a mask and not wearing one, and I can’t speak to those. I just know the looks on their faces. They’re running their guts out.”

“It’s tragic to watch,” he said.

In stark contrast with Oregon officials, the governors of Texas and Mississippi both announced in early March that mask mandates, as well as many other lockdown restrictions, would be lifted, and the economies fully reopened.

In a press statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) referred to the need “to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent.” He noted the need to continue common sense practice around hygiene, encouraging Texans not to abandon the simple measures that keep them healthy. Ultimately, Abbott proclaimed that “state mandates are no longer needed” and his executive order will ensure “all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”

In like manner, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) of Mississippi has lifted all lockdown restrictions and masking mandates, saying that his “office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do.”

Meanwhile, in the U.K., the Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, Mary Ramsay, has announced that COVID-related restrictions may be a long-term fixture in Britain, proposing a need to wear face masks and physically distance “for a few years.”

Ramsay suggested that the general public has “got used to” what she called “those lower-level restrictions,” in reference to masking and physical distancing. “So I think certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that is when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation,” she said.