Stillwater: Masks Required in Public starting Sat., July 11th
Mike Seals - July 10, 2020 9:50 am
STILLWATER — Stillwater residents will be required to wear face coverings in public spaces beginning Saturday, July 11, due to COVID-19 concerns.
Stillwater City Council passed Ordinance 3452 regarding required face coverings on Thursday evening. The ordinance will remain in effect through Nov. 30, 2020. Watch the meeting replay on the City’s YouTube channel City of Stillwater TV.
The ordinance requires that everyone wears a face covering in all public spaces, including educational institutions, food services, retail and personal service establishments that provides goods or services directly to the public. Exceptions outlined in the ordinance include, but are not limited to, persons with medical, mental or developmental conditions, children under age 5 (unless required by school or day care to wear a face covering), and non-public areas or workplaces.
“We have to do the right thing, If the city doesn’t take action now, health experts tell us the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to rise.” Mayor Will Joyce said, “We don’t want to step back to Phase 2 and close the city down again.”
Another concern is the start of the academic year for both Stillwater Public Schools and Oklahoma State University. City Manager Norman McNickle said, “Frankly, we are concerned. With more people in town, students and faculty returning from COVID-19 hotspots, the return of large sporting events, and more face-to-face encounters, we need to reduce how this virus is spread and reduce the drain on the health care system.”
In the first 80 days of the shelter at home, Stillwater had 22 confirmed cases. In the next five weeks, Stillwater did not have any new cases; however, since June 1, Stillwater has had more than 400 confirmed cases.
Requirements for places of public accommodation
Ordinance 3452 outlines requirements and guidelines for places of public accommodation, educational institutions and indoor public settings under Sec. 14-4 and 14-5.
- Businesses shall post signage at all entrances stating that face coverings are required. The City is providing this signage— download it here or pick up at the Stillwater Municipal Building, 723 S. Lewis St.
- Businesses may deny entry to any member of the public who refuses to wear a face mask. Businesses may use the City’s hotline (405.533.8533) to report non-compliance.
Acceptable face coverings include R95, KN95, dust masks, procedural masks, cotton bandanas, neck gaiters, running buffs and some tightly woven scarves. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
Mayor Joyce said, “City Council has authorized the setup of a kick-start program to provide face coverings for establishments that don’t have any to share. We think it’s important that we all work together to fight this pandemic.” Businesses will be able to pick up a limited number of face coverings at Visit Stillwater and the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. More information will be coming on this program.
McNickle said, “We obviously are seeking voluntary compliance by our citizens and our businesses. Shutting down hair salons, restaurants and other businesses hurts everyone. We don’t want to return to that and neither do you.”
McNickle explained how the citations will work, “If you show up at a Stillwater business without a face covering, the manager may ask you to leave. If you refuse to do so, the manager can report the violation and a police officer will appear at the business to assist. If the situation can’t be resolved, the manager has the option to sign a complaint and the officer will issue a citation for trespassing or whatever charge is appropriate under the circumstances.”
If residents wish to report another patron violating the ordinance, McNickle says to first start with the business’s manager. Management may call the police to report the violator.
The City set up an Ordinance 3452 Hotline (405.533.8533) that businesses or residents may call to report non-compliance or if they have questions.
McNickle said, “I know there will be questions. For example, what to do at restaurants and does this apply to open areas like parks. Yes, a face covering is required when entering a restaurant. When you are sitting at the table and/or eating or drinking, you may remove your face covering. However, when getting up to visit the restroom or leave the restaurant, you will be required to put the face covering back on.”
Joyce reiterated that Stillwater is still in Phase 3 of the Open Up & Recover Safely Plan (OURS); however, if the spread of the virus is not curbed or if Stillwater begins to approach or exceed its health care system’s ability to provide medical services, a decision may be made to step back to Phase 2 of the plan.
The Stillwater face covering ordinance is consistent with the recently adopted COVID-19 prevention guidelines adopted by Oklahoma State University for the fall semester. Students. Faculty, employees, vendors and visitors to OSU are required to wear face coverings whenever in university buildings and elsewhere on campus whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Stillwater’s ordinance takes a step beyond what the State of Oklahoma is doing. Gov. Kevin Stitt said at a June 30 press conference that while he would like Oklahomans to wear face coverings. Stitt said that he would follow the lead of the federal government and implement a color-coded risk assessment system to provide relevant information on a county-by-county basis.
Joyce said the City has been busy since the initial shutdown in March. Together with Oklahoma State University and the Stillwater Public Schools, the City is working closely with the State Department of Health, the Stillwater Medical Center and other public agencies to coordinate precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of our citizens.
The Stillwater Municipal Building (City Hall) at 723 S. Lewis St. has partially re-opened and is being aggressively sanitized and disinfected. Entrances and exits have been optimized to maintain social distancing. The use of face coverings is required within the Stillwater Municipal Building, the Stillwater Community Center, and the Stillwater Public Library. Face coverings are distributed for those doing business with the City. Informational posters on handwashing and COVID-19 prevention information are posted in high traffic areas.
You can view Ordinance 3452 in its entirety. Read the details and learn more at http://stillwater.org/news/view/id/599.