Reynoldsburg City Council on July 13 voted 6-1 to approve an ordinance that requires most people over age 10 to wear a facial covering in public because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Council member Barth Cotner dissented.
The mandate took effect July 15.
The Ohio Department of Health on July 8 mandated facial coverings in public in Franklin County. On July 10, Fairfield County was added.
The mandate announced July 7 by Gov. Mike DeWine applies to all counties designated as Level 3 on the state’s virus-rating scale. Level 3 indicates people in those counties have a very high risk of exposure and spread of the virus, according to a release from DeWine’s office
Reynoldsburg’s ordinance primarily was directed at those living and working in the Licking County portion of the city because Fairfield and Franklin counties already were at Level 3. On July 17, Licking County joined the list of counties with additional Level 3 requirements.
Reynoldsburg “finds that the safety of its citizens is best protected by implementing a requirement to wear face coverings in public places” including retail stores, gyms, public transportation and in any outdoor place where social distancing cannot be maintained, according to the July 13 legislation approved by council.
It provides exceptions for exercising, eating and drinking and would require businesses to display a sign near the entrance with the requirement for facial coverings consistent with the ordinance.
Those in violation of the ordinance could be subject to a civil penalty in the amount of $55, and a business could be fined $300, but Reynoldsburg police officers will focus on compliance, not penalties, said Chris Shook, city attorney.
The ordinance “prohibits enforcement after compliance with a warning” and clarifies that “a suspected violation of the ordinance shall not provide a lawful basis for the initiation of a traffic stop by law enforcement.”
Council member Kristin Bryant compared the mandate to seat belt laws and Ohio’s indoor smoking ban.
“We do many things with the law that require things of people. This is something that, while I don’t like the idea of having to mandate this ... we’re at war,” Bryant said.
“The president has told us several times that we are at war with the virus. It’s our duty as Americans to join this fight against the virus. The way we do that is by protecting each other, just as soldiers would in any war.”
The next council meeting is 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 27. It will be conducted virtually and streamed on the city’s Facebook page. City Hall, 7232 E. Main St., also will be open for anyone needing to attend the meeting in person, but social-distancing guidelines will be observed.
Residents may email comments to council clerk Mollie Prasher or register with the clerk to make comments live via Zoom by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.