Council Votes to Require Face Masks to Fight COVID-19 in Columbus

Mask Order in Response to Rising COVID-19 Infections

[COLUMBUS, OH] Love your neighbor as you love yourself. In the City of Columbus, that means wearing a mask out in public. On Monday, July 6, 2020, Council passed ordinance 1643-2020, directing residents to wear facial coverings or masks in public spaces. 

“We are in a sprint to get ahead of this virus,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “The number of positive COVID-19 cases in our region are rising, especially among younger people, and that can lead to a huge surge of infections threatening our entire health care system. We must act now to protect our neighbors and families.”

The ordinance requires residents over the age of six to wear facial coverings in all public spaces, including indoor and outdoor facilities where a six-foot social distancing radius cannot be maintained. Residents and businesses in violation of the order are subject to a civil citation. Ordinance 1643-2020, was introduced from the floor by Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, Councilmember Priscilla Tyson.

“This virus has taken an emotional, economical and financial impact on this City and our nation,” Hardin continued. “This is a legislative declaration that we care about our community and our neighbors. We are putting people first.”

The new mandate exempts residents with medical or behavioral conditions, children under six, people actively eating or drinking, strenuously exercising or communicating with someone hearing impaired. First responders and public safety personnel are only exempt from wearing a covering if it interferes with executing their official duties. The ordinance also excludes personal vehicles, schools and places of worship.

“As we continue to grapple with this coronavirus, we have to step up our efforts, and this mask mandate is the next phase,” said Councilmember Priscilla Tyson. “In the last week, we’ve seen record numbers of new COVID-19 cases, and we’re still climbing. It’s time to turn the tide, and if everyone wears masks, we will be successful.” 

This action replaced the executive order issued by Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. The ordinance goes into effect at 8am on Tuesday, July 7, and will be enforced by Columbus Public Health.

“With no vaccine or cure for COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have to help protect health and prevent the spread of disease in our community,” says Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it is critical for everyone to wear a face covering whenever they are out in public, in addition to social distancing and washing your hands. It takes all of us doing whatever we can to protect our community during this pandemic.”

Columbus Public Health will enforce this requirement and issue warnings and citations for businesses. Businesses will receive a warning for the first violation, a $500 fine for the second violation and a $1,000 fine for the third violation.

“COVID-19 is a silent threat to our community,” said Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy. “We can’t see it with the naked eye, but have great tools at our fingertips to keep each other safe – face masks. Study after study has proven the value of wearing facial masks as the first line of defense. So, mask up Columbus.”