Because the omicron variant is highly contagious, Portland has approved mask mandates for indoor dining. But, added to this, vaccinations and proper masking practices need to be officially required, to offset how deteriorating standards for mask usage in restaurants is causing many people not to dine indoors.

People wear masks when walking to and from a table, yet masks come off and regularly stay off, even when their server continues to wear a mask. People will continue to think COVID-19 is a charade if we do not require standards that respect the reality of its dangers.

Added to requiring masks as we enter and sit at our tables, masking should be required between sips of our drinks, after eating and whenever we speak to servers, regardless of our vaccination status. And, along with proof of vaccination and better masking practices, air purifiers with HEPA filters are an inexpensive way to reduce risk; they can be paid for by adding a small surcharge to every indoor diner’s bill, to help pay for continual filter replacements.

Portland’s dining scene is a major part of our city’s curb appeal, and official requirements for placing a major emphasis on being vaccinated with strict masking standards for indoor dining would free dining atmospheres from justified concerns for safety.

Most importantly, as a form of common-sense activism to protect working people in area restaurants, strong standards for healthful indoor dining would only add to what makes Portland great.

Zeus Markos

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