The Oregon State Fire Marshall announced Saturday that until April 11, drivers will be allowed to pump their own gas in order to reduce contact that could spread COVID-19 and ensure workers have access to fuel during potential staffing shortages.
“During this unprecedented time of state emergency, we need to ensure that critical supply lines for fuels and other basic services remain uninterrupted,” State Fire Marshal Jim Walker said in a news release.
Effective immediately, gas stations are now able to let drivers pump their own gas if they meet a particular set of requirements, including having posted safety signs for how to safely operate a fuel pump, according to fo FOX12.
Gas stations also are required to implement and enforce social distancing policies, and require an attendant to be on duty to supervise self-service refueling “consistent with the social distancing policies.”
The state has allowed limited self-serve gas in rural counties since January 2018.
Gas stations in counties that have populations of less than 40,000 can offer self-service gas to customers at any time. The change to the law that went into effect in 2018 impacted the 15 least populated of Oregon’s 36 counties.
Attendants are still required at gas stations in Oregon’s larger population centers of Portland, Eugene, Salem, Bend and Medford.
The changes announced Saturday were already being met with criticism.
Andrew Emmons, who pumps gas at a Chevron station in the Portland suburb of Sherwood, told the Oregonian it may impact public safety.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for Oregonians to be able to pump their own fuel. There’s a few of us designated, trained attendants who touch the pumps and we’re taking the proper safety precautions,” Emmons told the paper. “We were the only ones touching the pumps. Now if you let everybody touch the pumps, that’s a higher breeding ground to spread the virus.”
New Jersey is the only other state that places restrictions on self-service gasoline. The state’s law passed in 1949 and bans all customers from pumping gas at any time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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