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Update: City of Columbus Announces Mask Mandate

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Update: City of Columbus Announces Mask Mandate
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Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.

Editor’s Note 6/7/2020: This article has been updated to include additional information on the mask mandate after a City Council vote on Monday, July 6.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced on Thursday, July 2 that he would be signing an executive order, to go in effect beginning Friday, July 3, requiring the use of facial coverings in public. However, an ordinance passed by Columbus City Council on Monday, July 6 changes much of the language from the original executive order.

Face coverings are still required in all public buildings and indoor facilities in Columbus, as well as outdoor spaces where people in Columbus cannot maintain six-foot social distance. Previously face masks were not required outdoors.

Exceptions still include for medical and behavioral conditions and disabilities, for children under 6 years of age, when actively eating and drinking, when strenuously exercising, for circumstances in which one is communicating with the hearing impaired and in religious facilities.

Additionally, the ordinance allows an exception for first responders if it interferes with executing their official duties — rather than a blanket exception for public safety personnel — and removes the exception given for state facilities.

Mayor Ginther previously said Columbus police will not be stopping people on the street to issue citations. Per the ordinance, individuals can be issued warnings for first violations and face fines of $25 for second and subsequent violations.

It was also noted prior to the ordinance that Columbus Public Health will not be entering bars and restaurants to ensure these measures are taking place. However with the ordinance, businesses will receive a warning for the first violation, face fines of $500 for a second violation and $1,000 for a third and subsequent violations.

Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said on Thursday that she would be sending a letter out to foodservice operators requesting they consider limiting their hours and capacity by 50% to help maintain the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Roberts said the city saw a single-day high Wednesday, July 1, with 198 newly reported COVID-19 cases. The last single-day high took place on May 2. The city is currently experiencing its highest consecutive increase in cases since the pandemic began.

Image via Columbus Public Health.

Dr. Roberts said the city is testing more individuals who are asymptomatic, which could explain the increase in cases as well as community spread, yet no increase in hospitalizations.

She said community spread is real, adding that there are “simple” actions residents can take to reduce the spread, including avoiding mass gatherings and social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask.

If in need of masks, residents can call the 311 non-emergency services line for help in acquiring one.

View the full legislative text here.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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