City Council members to decide mask ordinance enforcement Monday

2 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago Friday, July 03 2020 Jul 3, 2020 Friday, July 03, 2020 3:51:00 PM CDT July 03, 2020 in News
By: Annabel Thorpe, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA—Columbia City Council will vote Monday on a new mask ordinance that would require face coverings in all public places. 

The ordinance is in response to growing COVID-19 cases, and the goal is to prevent or limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease through using face masks.

If passed, the ordinance will go into effect immediately. It will remain in effect for 90 days after the effective date or until altered or updated by a new ordinance.

Everyone 10 and older must wear a mask in all public settings including: private gatherings with people from outside their household.

Both city council members Matt Pitzer and Ian Thomas support the mask ordinance. However, they are unsure what enforcement will look like.

“We need to really have a conversation about enforcement and who is going to be responsible for ensuring that people are wearing masks,” Pitzer said.

In the ordinance, there is a $15 fine for individuals and $100 for businesses. Businesses would be fined $100 for each employee not wearing a face mask.

“There are going to be instance where someone gets written up,” Pitzer said. “There is a fine written into the ordinance, so if we’re not going to be willing to impose that fine in certain situations then it’s meaningless.”

However, Pitzer and Thomas do not want “mask police.”

“I certainly don’t support sending police officers to look for people without masks and issue them tickets,” Thomas said. “I do think we need a fine written into the ordinance, but I don’t for see a lot of effort to do enforcement.”

The ordinance would provide exemptions: 

  • Outdoors when able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others
  • Exercising outdoors
  • Playing sports
  • At home and exclusively with members of their own household
  • In a vehicle and exclusively with members of their own household
  • Eating or drinking only at a restaurant (still remaining six feet another table)
  • When any party to a communication is deaf or hard of hearing and not wearing a face mask is essential to communication
  • While obtaining a service that requires temporary removal, such as dental examinations
  • When necessary to confirm an individual's identity
  • When requested by a law enforcement officer
  • When requested by a medical provider
  • When in a business/commercial/office setting and not within six feet of any other person

If someone has a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a face mask, then a mask would not be required.

Businesses would be required to provide face masks to their employees under the ordinance.

The city has determined a face mask means a “covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face.”

To be passed, the ordinance needs six out of the seven City Council members to vote in favor of it on Monday.

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