Hilliard has issued an executive order mandating facial coverings in all business establishments and in all outdoor public spaces when unable to maintain social distancing, according to a news release sent Monday, July 6.

City Manager Michelle Crandall issued the executive order to take effect beginning Tuesday, July 7, and to remain in place until Franklin County is at a Level 1 in accordance with the virus-risk levels introduced previously by Gov. Mike DeWine, according to the news release.

The executive order was issued under the emergency powers that Hilliard City Council granted Crandall in March at the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, said Anna Subler, communications administrator for Hilliard.

Crandall said in a statement the order is intended to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The mouth and nose must be covered, according to the news release.

The order extends to Hilliard City Schools properties and organized sporting events, but it does provide exceptions, including for medical conditions, developmental disabilities, people “engaging in strenuous exercise activities,” children under 6 years old and people “actively eating or drinking," the release said.

Violation of the order would result in a minor misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of a $150 fine, according to the news release.

City Council President Andy Teater said discussion of a mask mandate in Hilliard began after DeWine’s press conference July 2 and a Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission conference the same day.

During the MORPC meeting, it was concluded that with Franklin County at Level 3 and approaching Level 4 of coronavirus infections, per DeWine’s metrics outlined in his press conference, “that the entire central Ohio community needed to step up and do all we can to keep our businesses and economy open,” Teater said.

The move also allows “the best chance for our schools to open in August,” he said.

Hilliard’s executive order came with support from the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Businesses need to remain open, and this can be done by helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks while visiting our local business community,” said Libby Gierach, president and CEO of the chamber.

Businesses will play a role in ensuring patrons are aware of the requirement, Subler said.

“Police will respond to complaints received related to noncompliance,” Subler said.

Other Ohio cities, including Columbus, Bexley, Dublin, Whitehall and Worthington in central Ohio, have moved to require the wearing of masks in public, either through executive orders or legislation. Other cities, such as Reynoldsburg, are poised to consider measures.

In addition, DeWine on July 7 announced a mandate that will go into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, and will apply to all counties that are designated as Level 3. The list currently includes Franklin County.

Check ThisWeekNEWS.com/Hilliard for updates to this story.

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