The Norman City Council will consider adopting an ordinance mandating the use of face coverings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during Tuesday’s special session.
The ordinance would require residents to wear face coverings in public service areas, public settings and places of public accommodation. The ordinance also includes capacity limitations and social distancing requirements for restaurants and bars.
Face coverings, according to the ordinance, include cloth face masks, towels, scarves, bandanas and other items that fully cover a person's nose and mouth.
The ordinance would expire on Nov. 30 unless appealed or modified by the council.
Public service areas are defined by the ordinance as “any public place where persons congregate which is not a place of public accommodation” and includes offices, workplaces, houses of worship, child care facilities, gyms and physical fitness facilities and communal outdoor spaces, such as sidewalks, trails and parks, food trucks and other outdoor retail entities.
Places of Public Accommodation are defined as “all places offering items, goods or services for purchase or rent” and includes retail businesses, personal services and spas, entertainment venues, food service facilities and other businesses.
The city would develop signs for businesses to post at all entrances notifying the public that they must wear face coverings, according to the ordinance. Businesses will be required to post the signs.
The ordinance includes eight exceptions for mandatory face coverings:
- People or situations identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where the wearing of a cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns
Children under the age of two
Restaurant and bar patrons while they are eating or drinking
People exercising in communal outdoor spaces, or people walking or exercising with other persons from the same household in communal outdoor spaces
Settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, such as when receiving dental or medical treatment and services
Occupants inside a personal vehicle, personal office or similarly private space while other persons from outside of the occupant’s household are not present
Offices and workplaces that are not public service areas where physical distancing between employees and other occupants can be consistently maintained during hours of operation
Mayor Breea Clark told The Transcript this ordinance is a necessary next step for managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Facial coverings are a no-brainer, especially with our numbers rising the way they are, and will make a difference in our fight against (COVID-19),” Clark told The Transcript. “We are doing everything we can to keep our businesses open and the economy running while keeping residents safe.”
Individuals who fail to comply would be subject to prosecution for criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, interference with official process or similar offenses, according to the ordinance. Businesses that fail to post signs regarding the ordinance at their establishment may be subject to a fine of up to $500 or civil action as appropriate.
The ordinance also requires restaurant dining areas to promote social distancing between seated groups of patrons. Bars and bar areas would also be required to enforce social distancing by limiting the capacity for patrons to the number of seats available, Standing room only areas should be closed to patrons, according to the ordinance.
The restrictions were developed according to CDC guidelines, according to the ordinance.
The ordinance also mentions that 47% of the positive cases in Norman since mid-June have occurred in residents between 18 and 35 years old, and the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is "the result of broad community spread where people are in close contact with others and not wearing masks."
It also mentions data from the Cleveland County Health Department that the gathering of people at church services, bars, restaurants, pool parties, weddings and funerals has contributed to the surge in cases.
The ordinance would remain in effect through the end of the University of Oklahoma's football season at home. OU's last home game is scheduled for Nov. 21 against Kansas.
Recently elected City Council members David Perry, Ward 2; Lee Hall, Ward 4; Elizabeth Foreman, Ward 6; and Matthew Peacock, Ward 8, also will be sworn in during Tuesday’s meeting.