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Oklahoma City face mask ordinance now in effect

published in McAfee & Taft LINC Alert | July 20, 2020

Late Friday afternoon, the City Council for Oklahoma City adopted an emergency city ordinance in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In short, the ordinance requires that “all persons shall wear face coverings when entering and while inside any indoor place open to the public” in Oklahoma City. The vote passed by a count of 6-3. Pursuant to a subsequent vote, the measure was given “emergency” status and therefore goes into effect immediately. It expires at midnight on September 7, 2020 (immediately after Labor Day).

It is important to note that this ordinance is now the floor for Oklahoma City area businesses, and a private business is still free to impose stricter requirements. While the ordinance provides for fines, individuals who do not follow the requirements imposed by a private business are subject to removal by police for trespassing. Here’s how the new ordinance applies to Oklahoma City employers.

The basics

Under the new ordinance, all people in Oklahoma City must wear “face coverings” when “while inside any indoor place open to the public.” The term “face covering” as used in the ordinance means (1) “a uniform piece of material that securely covers a person’s nose and mouth and remains affixed in place without the use of one’s hands,” and/or (2) “a face shield.” Face coverings under this ordinance may be disposable or non-disposable.”

Exceptions

The ordinance provides a number of common-sense exceptions. These include:

  1. any person aged 10 and under unless required by a school or day care to wear a face covering;
  2. any person working in a professional office who does not have any face-to-face interactions with the public;
  3. any person who is a patron of a restaurant while eating or drinking;
  4. any person in a setting where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, such as when receiving dental services, medical treatments, or while swimming or at a splash park;
  5. any person engaged in any competitive sporting activities, whether professional or amateur or merely for recreational purposes;
  6. any person engaged in performing cardio exercise, when socially distanced;
  7. any person inside any Federal, State, or County government building or other facility;
  8. any person inside any public or private school building or other facility unless required by the school to wear a face covering;
  9. any person attending any indoor religious service or ceremony as long as all persons who do not live in the same household are social distancing from one another, meaning not less than 6 feet apart; and
  10. Any person with a development disability, including being deaf or hearing impaired.

Enforcement

Failure to comply with the ordinance will subject an individual to citation, with associated fines and court costs. Each act of violating the ordinance is a separate offense, and the fines increase with each violation up to $100. An amendment added during the meeting requires that enforcement officers offer an offending individual a face covering or the option to leave the indoor place open to the public before facing a citation.

Defense to violation

Any individual who can produce a document demonstrating that their physician has verified that wearing a face covering could cause impairment or would constitute a hazard to the individual shall have a defense to liability under this ordinance.