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Oregon to allow self-serve gas for 2 weeks due to COVID-19 outbreak

(Update: Adding more info)

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon, one of only two states with a ban on self-serve at gas stations, is suspending enforcement for two weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak and allowing self-serve under some new guidelines, the Office of State Fire Marshal announced Saturday.

New Jersey is the only other state in the country that bans pumping your own gas. And Oregon voters in recent years agreed to allow self-serve in rural counties with 40,000 or fewer residents.

An agency spokesman said, "The purpose of this provision is simply to allow, not mandate, self-serve of gasoline at retail stations across Oregon. It does not address pricing, signage, etc. At this point, it is only in effect for two weeks."

Here's the news release announcing the change:

In response to the impacts of COVID-19 on Oregon, the Office of State Fire Marshal is suspending regulations over self-service stations and implementing measures to ensure the health and safety of gas retailers.

“During this unprecedented time of state emergency, we need to ensure that critical supply lines for fuels and other basic services remain uninterrupted,” said State Fire Marshal Jim Walker.

A. Effective immediately today, until April 11 (two weeks from effective date), retail facilities of Class 1 flammable liquid transportation fuels prohibited from offering self-service refueling shall:

  1. Prepare, implement and enforce social distancing policies consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority,
  2. Require an attendant to be on duty to supervise self-service refueling consistent with the social distancing policies and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through sanitization measures, and
  3. Designate an employee at each station to implement and enforce the social distancing policies.

B. For retail facilities of Class 1 flammable liquid transportation fuels compliant with paragraph A, the State Fire Marshal’s office shall not enforce the self-service prohibition under ORS 480.310 through ORS 480.385.

C. Notwithstanding (A2), a station owner may only offer self-service without an attendant if:

  1. The owner retains documentation that there are no employees available to work as an attendant, including documentation for absences and employee hiring and retention efforts;
  2. The owner is subject to State Fire Marshal audit and has posted safety signs for how to safely operate a fuel pump; and
  3. The hours of operation under this subsection do not exceed 10 consecutive hours.

Station owners who need help finding employees to cover shifts should contact Miriam Nolte (Miriam.l.nolte@oregon.gov; 503-612-4252) for help finding workers.

The agency also offered this added information in their online FAQs:

Self-Service Rules Change FAQs

Can I pump my own gas now in Oregon?
Yes, under this provision, you may pump your own gas through April 11, 2020.
Where in the state can I pump my own gas under this provision?Anywhere.
How will I know how to pump my own gas? There should be instructions posted on the dispensing equipment. In addition, the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM), in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority, produced a flyer that operators may post at dispensers. The flyer provides safety instructions for the dispensing of gasoline, general operating instructions, and measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
What is a Class 1 flammable liquid? Gasoline is categorized as a Class 1 flammable liquid. 
Do I have to have an attendant do anything? Under this provision, no.
Will this be extended past April 11, 2020? OSFM will continue to evaluate the need for an extension with industry representatives and other stakeholders.
What if a I need help ?At some locations, an attendant who is supervising the dispensing may be available for assistance.
What does the 10-hour limit mean? Under this provision, if the owner meets the requirements of section C, the owner may allow self-serve fueling to occur without an attendant for ten consecutive hours. 
Is this effective 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Yes.
Will the equipment be cleaned? This provision does require the operator to implement sanitation measures when an attendant is present to supervise the dispensing.
If I wish to use gloves, will they be provided? Under this provision, the operator is not required to provide gloves. 
Will there always be at least one attendant to help me? No. Under section C of this provision, an attendant may not always be present.
Will the OSFM be monitoring gas stations to make sure they are following the rules? OSFM does not intend to actively monitor retail service stations for compliance. However, if our office receives information that a station may not be following the rules, we will reach out to them to provide education to assist them. 
Will OSFM write citations? Our focus is to support both Oregon businesses and residents during this event and to help make sure everyone has access to gasoline during this crisis. 

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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