The Norman City Council Tuesday approved a mandatory face covering ordinance effective through Nov. 30.

The ordinance requires the public to wear face coverings or masks while inside businesses, like retail and grocery stores, hotels, hair salons, banks, dealerships and other places where goods or services are exchanged. The public must also wear masks while frequenting drive-through and curbside businesses.

Ward 3 Counciiwoman Alison Petrone said employees were keeping customers safe by wearing masks, but customers were not keeping employees safe because they were not wearing one.

Offices and outdoor areas where social distancing “consistently” is possible are exempt from the order.

The order also applies to bars and restaurants, but only when patrons are not eating and drinking. Both are still required to enforce social distancing in dining areas. Bars cannot allow customers in “standing room areas.” Patrons must be waited on at tables, City Attorney Kathryn Walker said.

Exemptions to the ordinance include those who would experience a worsening medical condition and during outdoor exercise such as running when it causes limited breathing. Those with conflicting cognitive or mental health conditions, hearing impaired individuals who read lips and children under the age of six are also exempt. Exemptions also apply to “settings where it is not practical” to wear a face covering such as during dental and medical exams, the ordinance reads.

Customers could be fined if their refusal to wear a face covering becomes another offense, such as trespassing or disturbing the peace.

Businesses are required to display signs where employees and customers enter the building and could face up to a $500 fine if they refuse, the ordinance reads.

City spokeswoman Annahlyse Meyer said signs will be available to download from its site, coronavirus.normanok.org by July 9 and printed signs will be available for pick up in the city clerk's office and at the Norman Chamber of Commerce.

The ordinance states businesses must provide masks to customers in the event that the city makes them available. Meyer said masks will be available for business owners by next week.

“Through a generous donation from anonymous business owners, the City has ordered masks to be distributed to businesses which we expect to arrive next week. As soon as we get these, pickup times will be announced,” she said by email.

While dozens of people spoke against the policy, many supporters also urged the council to adopt the ordinance. Most who were opposed expressed concerns about U.S. Constitutional rights violations, but Walker said the city's core function is to protect the public health.

“There's nothing in state law or constitutional law that I interpret it saying we can't impose a mask policy as long as it's related to an important governmental purpose—here protecting the public health,” she said. “We're following CDC guidelines on how we're doing it and getting reasonable accommodations to those who can't. So, I think what we're doing is constitutional and reasonable.”

Non-compliance complaints can be turned in to the city's action center at 405-366-5396 or by email to action.center@normanok.gov.

Mindy Ragan Wood

405-416-4420

mwood@normantranscript.com

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