Outdoor mask mandate returns with a busy weekend in Marion County approaching

The Oregon State Fair, which begins Friday, Aug. 27, will be requiring all attendees to wear a mask (Submitted).

As an event-filled weekend approaches in Marion County, Gov. Kate Brown announced that starting Friday, Aug. 27, masks will be required at all outdoor events — whether you’re vaccinated or not. 

The mandate will require that masks be worn in outdoor settings where individuals from different households are not consistently maintaining a safe distance apart. 

Tuesday, after Brown’s announcement, the Oregon Health Authority announced there were 1,000 Oregon patients hospitalized with COVID, a pandemic record. It was also reported at press time that of the 657 total adult ICU beds in Oregon, only 45 remain available.

Brown’s announcement Tuesday gives event organizers in Marion County only a couple of days to prepare for the new mandate and find ways to enforce it. 

The Oregon State Fair, which is set to begin Friday, Aug. 27 and run through Monday, Sept. 6, plans to use education to enforce the mandate, with signage and information to be posted throughout the fair. 

“We will also ask anyone who is not wearing a mask to kindly, put one on. Bottom line, we are committed to making this a fun and safe fair — for everyone,” Fair CEO Kim Grewe-Powell said in an email. 

The fair, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Salem fairgrounds each year, said in an initial press release in June that the fair would operate at full capacity and “no mask, physical distancing, or proof of vaccination will be required.” 

In Keizer specifically, the Monster Cookie Ride is expected to bring more than 500 cyclists to Keizer Rapids Park on Sunday, Aug. 29. 

The event, which includes three rides ranging from 61 miles to 6.2 miles, leaves from Keizer Rapids Park at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Event organizer Hersch Sangster said they’ve planned all along to require masks and social distancing at the event. 

“We kind of planned it from the very beginning to be this way because that’s how it was last spring when we started planning. We were hoping to let up but that didn’t happen,” Sangster said. 

Sangster said 444 people had pre-registered for the event and he expected, and welcomed, more to come the day of the event. 

Sangster said that cyclists participating in the event would not be required to wear masks under an outdoor mask exemption for those “playing or practicing competitive sports, or engaged in an activity in which it is not feasible to wear a mask.”

Children under 5-years-old are also exempt under the mandate, as are those performing, eating or drinking, or experiencing homelessness.

The ninth concert of the Keizer 2021 Summer Concert Series will take place Saturday, Aug. 28 with Johnny Wheels and the Swamp Donkeys set to perform. The event’s social media page described the band as a “bluesy sound blend with notes of R&B, soul, jazz, funk and rock.”

Clint Holland, the concert series organizer, said the governor’s announcement Tuesday didn’t give them much time to prepare but that the event would follow the rules and abide by what the state says.

Holland said enforcement at events like these can be difficult, but that both organizers and attendees should work together. 

“Most people have masks, and most people should know,” Holland said. “I would think everyone has a mask in their car. We might have to send them back and tell them to get it. We are going to buy some masks so we are prepared for it.” 

Joey Cappelletti: [email protected]