A guide to visiting Portland during Covid

A Guide to Visiting Portland during Covid

If you are looking for a fun and interesting city to visit during the covid-19 pandemic, Portland, Oregon is a great option! The city has plenty of things to offer tourists, including great restaurants, beautiful scenery, and plenty of activities.

Portland has a quite relaxed attitude towards the vaccine requirements and mask mandates. This makes it a great place to visit for those who are still undecided about whether or not they should get vaccinated. For those who have already made the choice, the good news is the city is over 77% with at least one dose and currently at 69% fully vaccinated.

In this blog post, we will discuss the reasons to visit Portland and what the city has to offer. We will also discuss the vaccine requirements and mask mandates in Portland so that you can be prepared before your trip…

Getting there and accommodation 

Heathman Hotel in Portland Oregon

As at the time of writing, Portland, Oregon has very few regulations of concern for travelers to the city. The state’s previous 14-day quarantine recommendation for interstate travelers has been lifted. In addition restrictions on hotels and motels have been removed, allowing them to operate as normal, though some venues may choose to limit their facilities or services, check with your provider (Travel Portland).

Airports and airlines

Portland International Airport Guide

Vaccines

As per the federal regulation, there are no vaccine requirements for US citizens traveling on airlines either within or into and out of the country. However, for non-citizens there is a requirement to show proof of full vaccination upon entering the United States, this has been in force since 8 November 2021 (Department of State)

Masks

Currently, all persons traveling by air within the United States, as well as those within airport grounds must wear a mask. It is formally required that masks be purpose-made face masks and not head socks or other improvised coverings.

Vaccine mandates

Covid laws in Portland Oregon

Effective since 12 March 2022 the Oregon statewide mask mandates have been lifted. In addition to the lifting of mask mandates, the majority of other statewide coronavirus measures have also been lifted. In Oregon, there was never a statewide vaccine mandate on ordinary citizens. However, under Oregon law, certain businesses require proof of vaccination to comply with OHS requirements.

In addition, private businesses, retailers, and event operators retain the right to require masks or proof of vaccination within their premises. Some that do not require vaccination may instead require proof of a negative covid test.

For this reason, it is recommended to carry a RAT test with you when visiting Portland and have a mask with you at all times. If you are vaccinated you should carry proof of vaccination with you at all times in addition to a test or proof of recent negative testing.

Public transport

There is currently no requirement within either Portland or the state of Oregon to prove vaccination to board or travel on any public transport. This information is accurate at the time of writing and applies to both US citizens and foreign residents.

Government buildings

It is not a requirement in Portland to be vaccinated to visit a government office or building to access public services or conduct personal business. However, since October 18, 2021, it has been a requirement that public servants holding positions in the executive branch in the State of Oregon must be vaccinated. This extends to police officers, corrections officers, and public health staff who are employed by the state.

Further announcements from the governor extended these vaccine requirements to include all healthcare workers and all employees within the K-12 education system. However, this extended requirement does not require visitors or students of schools, nor visitors or patients in healthcare facilities to be vaccinated (Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries).

Entertainment venues

McMenamins Crystal Ballroom -Live music venue Portland

There are no longer any state or city-imposed restrictions on restaurants for indoor dining (Travel Portland). All restaurants and dining venues may open to full capacity at their discretion.

However, venues retain the right to limit their services due to covid and may have limited capacity or self-imposed mask or vaccine mandates. You should check with any venue before visiting, as it may require proof of vaccination. 

Are restaurants and bars open?

Best restaurants with outdoor seating

Most public entertainment venues, clubs, and restaurants are open in Portland. Restaurants are free to trade unrestrictedly and do not have to operate with limited seating capacity.

However, while there are no regulatory requirements, venues may choose to impose vaccination, recent negative tests, or mask mandates. 

Are schools open?

As of October 18, 2021, it became a requirement that all teachers, educators, and support staff of Oregon schools must demonstrate proof of vaccination to continue to work (Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries). This was in keeping with announcements as made by Governor Brown in August 2021.

The requirements for students and educators to wear masks in Portland schools were a result of statewide mandates. These mandates are no longer in effect as of 12 March 2021 and as a result, neither students nor educators are required to wear masks (Portland Public Schools). The dropping of mask requirements in schools is in addition to most Portland schools returning to in-person classes as of 1 February 2022 (Portland Public Schools).

Workplaces

There is no shortlist of what non-government workplaces in Portland or the state of Oregon require vaccination. Some workplaces are free to make their requirements, however, these requirements must be made in accordance with applicable labor laws. Other workplaces are required to mandate vaccines for employees as per Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations (OR-OSHA).

Most workplaces no longer require employees or customers to wear masks and there is state legislation compelling them to do so. However, certain workplaces are still required to maintain mask requirements as per Oregon.gov. In addition, some private firms have continued to require customers and staff to meet certain covid related requirements, such as mask requirements or vaccination status.

Mask requirements

Mask wearing rules Portland Oregon

Effective as of 12 March 2022 the statewide mask mandates in Oregon were lifted, in keeping with this most mask mandates within the city of Portland have also been lifted. A list of what is open and some of the associated requirements is available from Portland.gov, however, most public venues and facilities are operating normally.

For private venues and businesses vaccine and mask, requirements are discretional. You should plan your trip and confirm mask and vaccine requirements ahead of time.

Public transport

Portland Streetcar Oregon

With the lifting of statewide mask mandates on March 12, 2021, many mask requirements have ceased. However, certain operators are required to adhere to federal regulations.

At this time Trimet, who operates most of Portland’s public transit system has stated masks will be required until 18 April 2021 as per federal regulation (Trimet) the statewide mask mandate has actually been lifted. But masks are still essential in health care settings as well as on public transportation, such as trains, buses, in airports and on airplanes.

Government buildings

Other than certain industries covered under specific additional requirements, most government offices do not require masks to be worn by either staff or members of the public (Portland.gov).

Will Portland shut down again?

Downtown Portland Oregon

Portland did endure lockdowns and mandates for various lengths of time during the covid pandemic, most restrictions were implemented in 2020.

Mandates and requirements, including limitations on many venues and public services, otherwise referred to as ‘shutdowns’ were all ended during 2021, other than those required under federal law. There are no current plans to restrict businesses any further in the Portland area and a current list of what’s open is available at Portland.gov.

Covid Cases

Concerning current covid cases, Portland has a rather modest 270 cases as of 19 March 2022. As with many cities, Portland’s daily covid cases have varied wildly during the pandemic. In December of 2021 cases were below 1000 per day and falling. For most of January 2022 cases spiked due to Delta and Omicron variants peaking at just over 8,200 cases per day.

Since January, cases have steadily decreased again and the daily case rate is now below 270. In addition to the strong improvement in daily cases, Portland has a full vaccination rate of 69% and over 77% with at least one dose of vaccine. All figures were taken from the New York Times and Oregon Health Authority.

Conclusion

As of now, there are no major vaccine or mask mandates in place for Portland and the city is open for business. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, and other business owners have rallied to keep their venues open and welcoming to tourists. The only restrictions most visitors will encounter are on public transport (mask requirements) and some private establishments that have chosen to impose their restrictions.

Even with the prevalence of the omicron variant, you can just take some simple precautions to ensure a smooth visit. If you’re thinking of visiting Portland in the near future the city is as vibrant as ever!

Beth was born under a wandering star, with drama in her veins and ink in her pen. After stints studying theatre in Dublin and Utrecht she used her creative streak to see as much of the world as she could on as little money. She toured Italian Schools with a children's theatre troop, lived as an au-pair in both Rome and Washington DC, explored the British countryside, worked her way through much of Europe, Salsa'd in Cuba and road tripped down America's west coast where she discovered her spiritual home; Portland, Oregon. In between adventures she resides peacefully with her cat and ukulele amid the misty valleys and rolling hills of beautiful South Wales.

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