An Oregon county has issued an order requiring that masks be worn in public except for non-whites to prevent racial profiling.
Lincoln County health officials announced last week that residents must wear a mask or face covering in a public setting where they come from within six feet of another person who is not from the same household.
But “people of color” do not need to follow this rule if they have “heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment” over wearing the masks, according to officials.
“No person shall intimidate or harass people who do not comply,” health officials said.
With mask requirements becoming more commonplace, activists say the rules could put more non-whites in danger.
“For many black people, deciding whether or not to wear a bandanna in public to protect themselves and others from contracting coronavirus is a lose-lose situation that can result in life-threatening consequences either way,” ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, told CNN.
Trevon Logan, who is black, said mask-wearing orders are “basically telling people to look dangerous given racial stereotypes that are out there.”
“This is in the larger context of black men fitting the description of a suspect who has a hood on, who has a face covering on,” said Logan, an economics professor at Ohio State University.
Lincoln County has reported 292 of Oregon’s confirmed coronavirus cases and one death as of Tuesday, according to Newsweek.
Previous exemptions to the mask rule in public include children under 12-years old, persons with medical conditions that would inhibit breathing if they had to wear a mask, or persons with disabilities that prevent wearing a mask.