Lowe’s stores fined more than $35,000 for violating COVID rules, Oregon officials say

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Two Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in Oregon have been fined more than $35,000 for flouting coronavirus mask rules, according to state officials.

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health announced Monday that it was fining Lowe’s stores in Albany and Redmond $17,500 each, totaling $35,600 in fines, saying they did not ensure all customers wore masks inside the stores.

The department said in a news release it conducted inspections after receiving multiple complaints and determined that supervisors “were fully aware of the requirement to ensure customer use of facial coverings” but “intentionally decided against carrying out their responsibilities.”

“It is not enough to leave the protection of employees in the hands of cooperative customers,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “As most employers recognize, they must take appropriate steps to ensure that the rules in place are actually followed. When an employer is not prepared to take such steps, we can and will use our enforcement tools to address the issue.”

Masks are required statewide in Oregon except in some circumstances, including being inside your own home.

The Redmond store was cited for an employer not assessing and identifying the risk of employee exposure to the coronavirus and not creating an infection control plan, officials said. The store was fined $600 total for those violations.

A COVID-19 outbreak connected to the Lowe’s store in Albany led to five COVID-19 cases, the Oregon Health Authority reported in March, according to Corvallis Gazette-Times.

The Albany Lowe’s manager declined to comment to the publication about the citation and fine.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Oregon has recorded at least 175,000 total coronavirus cases and 2,460 deaths as of April 20, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

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