Masks or other face coverings now required at farmers’ markets in Corvallis & Albany
UPDATE: We acted a few days ahead of Gov. Brown’s July 15 order applying mask requirements to outdoor settings where 6 foot distancing cannot be maintained. As adjusted on July 22, it applies to everyone 5 years and older. Our markets are giving away free cloth masks, and Urban Ag Supply has given us some face shields we can give to customers with medical conditions or disabilities that make it difficult to use a cloth mask.
Corvallis-Albany Farmers’ Markets (CAFM) is now requiring customers to wear masks, shields or other face coverings while shopping at the farmers’ markets in Corvallis and Albany.
Throughout the 2020 season, market vendors have been required to wear face coverings, and masks have been strongly recommended for customers, who market organizers note have stepped up in a big way since the governor’s action was announced.
Cloth masks made by the Corvallis Sewing Brigade have been provided to all vendors and at times to customers as well. The markets also have distributed single-use surgical-style masks.
CAFM’s new requirement was added to align with the governor’s recent order and a resolution by Benton County commissioners that passed a few days before the governor’s order.
Benton County commissioners asked all businesses to consider making masks/face coverings a requirement. The Benton County resolution strongly recommends that masks or face coverings be worn outdoors “while working or recreating unless a minimum distance of 6 feet can be maintained.”
While market staff has worked hard to keep everyone at least 6 feet apart if they aren’t in the same household, it will become increasingly difficult to achieve complete success at all times as customer attendance increases.
Some popular summer and fall crops are still arriving at the markets, and markets likely are not yet at peak attendance.
CAFM will continue to press everyone – vendors and customers – to maintain 6 feet minimum distance at all times from people not in the same household. The markets also encourage shoppers to come solo and shop for others who cannot, but CAFM recognizes leaving kids at home is not possible for all families.
“Farmers’ markets were permitted to open this spring because authorities recognized our vendors are essential food businesses just like grocery stores,” said Market Director Rebecca Landis. “Customers in grocery stores are required to wear masks. Even though operating outdoors is considered safer than indoors, it makes sense to take this extra step to keep markets safe for everyone.”
“We think the farmers’ markets are making a good call for public health by adding a mask requirement for customers to the vendor requirement,” said Charlie Fautin, interim Health Department co-director. “People are safest when both face covering and distancing practices are followed.”
Corvallis Sewing Brigade, which has been assisting the market by handing out cloth masks, is increasing its involvement to help make sure that everyone has access to face coverings.
Even as markets take this action, not every face will be covered. Children have special requirements, and people with certain medical conditions and disabilities must be accommodated.
CAFM policy will follow the governor’s order regarding children. The state strongly recommends but does not require face coverings for children 2-12. Children under 2 are not required to wear face coverings.
State guidance notes that “individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a mask, face shield or face covering can request an accommodation to enable full and equal access to services, transportation, and facilities open to the public.”
One possible accommodation for market shoppers who have such conditions or disabilities is pre-ordering through the market’s online system or directly from market vendors who have their own ordering systems. Shoppers could then have a friend pick up their pre-orders.
More statements from county health officials:
“Wearing of facial coverings in outdoor settings where measures of social distancing cannot be reliably observed is a very important way of protecting all from the spread of COVID-19. As Linn County Health Officer, I strongly support the Corvallis-Albany Farmers’ Markets in its plan to require facial coverings. We all need to do our part for the public good!”
William Muth, MD
Linn County Public Health Officer
“There is no reason to not wear a mask. There are so many options available now that it has been shown to be an effective preventative measure, along with physical distancing and washing/sanitizing your hands frequently, especially when in a public place.”
Bruce E. Thompson, MD
Benton County Public Health Officer