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Many Oregon State Fair attendees went without masks

<i>KPTV</i><br/>The Oregon State Fair is well underway in Salem
The Oregon State Fair is well underway in Salem

By Drew Marine

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    SALEM, Oregon (KPTV) — The Oregon State Fair is well underway in Salem, just as Gov. Brown’s outdoor mask mandate is now across the state.

“With the masks on, I feel really safe. I’m glad the fair is requiring it,” Heather Piercy, an attendee, said.

While masks are required indoors and outdoors at the fair, plenty of attendees went without one.

“A large number aren’t wearing masks,” Piercy said. “More than I thought and that really surprises me.”

Gov. Brown announced the outdoor mask mandate would begin on Friday. The order says you have to mask up regardless of your vaccination status. This applies to most public outdoor spaces and large outdoor events where social distancing isn’t possible.

Zach Fish said he’s vaccinated, so he feels safe, but noticed many weren’t following the mandate.

“There definitely has been a lot of no masks so that’s kind of sketchy but as a whole I feel okay,” he said.

There’s signage throughout the fair and at the amphitheater reminding people to wear a mask but Piercy said she wishes more people followed those rules.

“I think there’s a false sense of security,” Piercy said. “I think people think if they’re vaccinated, they don’t need to mask and that’s not true.”

FOX 12 reached out to the Oregon State Fair to ask how they’re enforcing these rules. Oregon State Fair & Exposition Center CEO Kim Grewe-Powell sent a statement, saying:

“All of us at the Oregon State Fair have been working very, very hard to make sure we can make our guests’ experience visiting the fair as safe and fun as possible. We have crews walking through the fair on a regular basis re-sanitizing handles, knobs, faucets, push bars, etc. And please notice the number of hand sanitizing stations—they’re located throughout the fair; in all buildings; and of course near the food and beverage vendor stands.

We have posted signs EVERYWHERE reminding guests of the need to wear masks “both inside and out.” You’ll see them at the gates, on doors to buildings, throughout the barns holding the livestock, and of course at the amphitheater.

In fact, before concerts at the amphitheater the emcee announces that masks must be worn when attendees aren’t eating or drinking. The message is repeated on the jumbotron.

We remind people as they enter the Fair to keep their masks on. We provide masks to those who forgot their own.

And we have staff who wander through the fair asking anyone unmasked (and not eating or drinking something) to put their masks back on. So far, that’s been very effective.

We have the option to ask people to leave the fairgrounds if their behavior is causing problems. We don’t want to get to that stage; we prefer educating people about the mask mandate in a calm, friendly, cooperative manner—that’s who we are! We’re hoping guests will indeed cooperate.

Just today, we took an additional step to ensure our vendors, exhibitors, performers, staff and volunteers are setting the proper example. We distributed a memo from Oregon OSHA, which has final enforcement authority. OR-OSHA will conduct random visits throughout the remainder of the Fair and at its discretion will issue fines to any vendors, exhibitors, staff or volunteers not in compliance.

We really appreciate everyone’s cooperation in our efforts to produce a safe, fun event for all of Oregon. Our team will continue to monitor compliance, and we will continue to work to make the Oregon State Fair safe for all and therefore fun for all.

We’re asking all guests to help us keep you as safe as possible, and also help protect your community: Please, while you’re at the Oregon State Fair, wear your mask.”

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