(Update: After hours of discussion and amendments, the Oklahoma City Council voted 6-3 on Friday to adopt a face mask ordinance effective immediately through Sept. 7.)
Oklahoma City may soon join other large municipalities around the country with a mask ordinance of its own depending on how a City Council vote shakes out Friday.
Mayor David Holt announced the 1 p.m. special meeting via Facebook this morning. Holt signaled in his Facebook post that he will vote in favor of the proposed mask ordinance put forward by Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher.
We remain concerned that COVID-19 new cases and hospitalizations continue at elevated levels in Oklahoma City. We have…
Holt said the ordinance would require the use of masks in indoor public spaces with “common sense exceptions.”
“[Stonecipher’s] stated intent is to lower the demand being placed on our hospitals by flattening the curve through the use of masks, an approach that allows our economy and employment to continue their recoveries,” Holt said in his Facebook post.
Holt said in his 46 of the 50 largest cities in the country have some form of a mask ordinance requiring compliance in public spaces.
Separately, the City Council will also hear recommendations on masks from the Oklahoma City-County Board of Health at a meeting Thursday morning. No action will be taken at that meeting.
Thursday morning, City of OKC staff released the proposed mask ordinance’s language (embedded below). The ordinance would require masks be worn “when entering or while inside any indoor place open to the public.” The document proposes nine exemptions, including for children under age 6 (unless required by a school or day care), those eating or drinking in restaurants, those not meeting face-to-face in a professional office setting, and those attending a religious service who are unable to be distanced six feet apart.
The proposal would feature a fine up to $50 for a first violation of the ordinance, as well as a fine up to $250 for a second violation and a fine up to $500 for third and subsequent violations.
Mask ordinances happening around Oklahoma
Cases have been on the rise in Oklahoma. The state recorded more than 900 positive cases Tuesday, its highest one-day total since the pandemic began in early spring. That was topped by 1,075 new cases today. Hospitalizations stemming from the novel coronavirus in the Oklahoma City metro area have also been creeping up, with 561 currently hospitalized in the state today.
Tulsa is also considering its own mask ordinance. Mayor G.T. Bynum and the city council are set to consider requiring people to wear masks in indoor public spaces at a meeting today.
Both Stillwater and Norman have already implemented mask ordinances. The Norman City Council approved its ordinance at a meeting July 8. Stillwater’s took effect Saturday, and requires those over 5 years of age to wear masks in public. Smaller communities like Altus and Stilwell have also implemented a mask ordinance.