People visiting Whitehall businesses and public spaces, in most instances, will be required to wear a mask effective Friday, July 3, through the end of July after Mayor Kim Maggard's July 2 order.
Maggard followed the lead of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, signing an executive order requiring face coverings through July 31.
The decision to enact the new order is in line with recommendations made by Franklin County Public Health and came following the announcement made by the city of Columbus to enact similar requirements, said Megan Meyer, community affairs manager for Whitehall.
Earlier this week, Bexley City Council also passed legislation requiring the wearing of masks in public places in most instances.
“While the city made a strong recommendation to our community that face coverings should be worn in public as a courtesy to others, we are at the point in our fight against COVID-19 where making this a requirement rather than a suggestion is necessary,” Maggard said.
“We join others in the central Ohio community in recognizing the importance of wearing masks in public to help keep our vulnerable populations safe and conserve our medical resources as much as possible,” she said.
Public spaces subject to the new requirement include retail businesses; restaurants and bars, except when seated at a table; reception areas in offices; personal care and grooming businesses; and Whitehall City Hall.
The city’s code enforcement officer, not the Whitehall Division of Police, will enforce the temporary policy, Meyer said.
According to the order, an initial verbal warning will be issued along with written information concerning the requirements of the order if the code enforcement officer witnesses a violation.
A citation is issued for an individual’s second violation if witnessed by the officer, according to the order.
The citation is in effect a summons to mayor's court and, if the offender is found guilty, it is a third-degree misdemeanor, Meyer said.
Businesses that observe violations of the requirement can refuse service, Meyer said.
Exceptions to the order include individuals with medical conditions, children younger than 6, and people who are actively eating, drinking or exercising.
The order does not specify any amounts for fines, Meyer said.