OKLAHOMA CITY — In a 6-3 vote on Friday, the City Council of Oklahoma City voted to adopt an ordinance requiring the wearing of masks in public indoor spaces.
After Thursday’s public briefing from the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, the City Council took a 24-hour break before meeting again to discuss an ordinance requiring the wearing of masks in public places.
The ordinance, written by Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher, proposed that all people in public indoor spaces in Oklahoma City be required to wear a mask. There are some exceptions.
The final version of the ordinance is at the end.
The Council was treated to two and a half hours of public comment. More than half of callers spoke in favor of the ordinance, among them many doctors and nurses.
Among those speaking against the ordinance, the overwhelming reason cited was one of personal liberty. Many callers countered those arguments by citing other common requirements of the City, such as speed limits and lawn mowing.
Those arguments did not move three of the city councilors. James Greiner, Larry McAtee, and Todd Stone of Wards 1, 3, and 4 respectively, each voted no on the ordinance.
Several amendments to the ordinance were adopted during the meeting. Notably, the fine schedule for those not wearing masks.
The original draft of the ordinance contained a $50 fine, plus costs and fees, for a first offense. For a second offense, the fine was to raise to $250. If there was a third offense, the fine would have been $500 plus a summons to appear in court.
After some discussion from Council, the fines were reduced. Several Councilors were concerned about the criminalization of people without access to masks. In deference to that concern, the fine was reduced as well as language added that required the authority to offer a mask to the person in violation of the ordinance.
The first two offenses will draw a $9 fine. That amount avoids the state-mandated $30 fee that is associated with fines of $10 or more.
A third or subsequent offense will come with a summons, and if convicted carry a fine not to exceed $100 inclusive of fines and costs.
According to City PIO Kristy Yager, exceptions to face covering requirements are:
- Children age 10 and under, unless required by a school or daycare.
- People working in an office who don’t have face-to-face interactions with the public.
- Patrons of restaurants, bars, and similar establishments while eating or drinking.
- People in settings where it isn’t practical or feasible to wear a face covering, like receiving dental services, swimming or playing at a sprayground.
- People engaged in sports (including for recreation).
- People engaged in cardio exercises. But people should make reasonable efforts to observe social distancing between groups of people from different households.
- People inside any federal, state or county building or facility.
- People inside a public or private school building or facility, unless required by the school.
- People at a religious service or ceremony where social distancing is observed between groups of people from different households.
- People with a developmental disability.
- People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
In order for the ordinance to go into effect immediately, there had to be passed an “emergency” condition, requiring seven affirmative votes. Greiner and McAtee again voted no, but this time Councilman Todd Stone joined the remainder of the Council to approve, making the ordinance effective as of the vote passing.
The ordinance expires on September 8, 2020 unless the Council takes action later to extend the time.