Mayor Horrigan Introduces Legislation To Make Face Coverings Mandatory In The City Of Akron
Order Would Be Enforced By Summit County Public Health And Carry Potential Civil Penalties For Businesses Or Individuals
Akron, Ohio, July 9, 2020 – Today, in an continuing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan submitted legislation to require face coverings in the City of Akron under most circumstances. The legislation is being proposed by Mayor Horrigan and Councilperson Tara Samples (Ward 5) with additional sponsorship from Council President Margo Sommerville, and Councilpersons Jeff Fusco (at-large), Rich Swirsky (Ward 1), and Shammas Malik (Ward 8). The legislation will be considered by Council on Monday, July 13, and if passed, will take effect immediately. A copy of the proposed order is attached and will soon be available at www.akronohio.gov/masks.
Akron’s proposal follows the announcement today by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine that the Ohio Department of Health will issue a face covering order for all of Summit County while the county remains in a “red” or “purple” status under the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. While this countywide order is immediately in effect throughout the entirety of Summit County, passing a local ordinance will allow Akron to pursue civil penalties (instead of the criminal penalties available under the state order) and to maintain the mandatory face covering order as long as necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. Once passed, the City of Akron order would remain until further action of Council, in consultation with Summit County Public Health.
“I take my duties as Mayor very seriously and the most crucial charge of my position is protecting the safety and wellbeing of the citizens of Akron. This face covering order will help keep Akron businesses open, help get our kids back into school, and ultimately and most importantly, save lives. Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It is a way of showing common courtesy and kindness to your fellow citizens. I wear my mask to protect your family and you wear yours to protect mine, and that is how community works.”
Situations when face coverings will be required under the local order:
While inside public areas of a place of business or City of Akron facility, and when entering, exiting, or waiting in line to enter those areas of a place of business or City of Akron facility
In any outdoor space where physical distancing of at least six feet is not maintained from others who are not members of the same household
In any public transportation such as a bus, taxi or ride sharing service
In common areas of a multi-unit housing building, including, but not limited to, hallways, stairways, elevators, and lobbies
Places of business shall require face coverings for paying customers and for employees that interact with the public
Exceptions and situations when face coverings are not required under the local order:
Those who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical, mental health, developmental condition
Children under the age of ten
Those who are unable to remove the face mask without assistance and anyone who should not wear face coverings under CDC guidance
While eating or drinking, and bar and restaurant patrons while sitting at their own table or place at the bar
When inside a personal or commercial vehicle that is not public transportation
When actually exercising at a gym with six feet of physical distance
Exercising or walking outdoors with six feet of physical distance or with members of the same household
Inside a workspace not intended for use by the general public
Inside religious institutions, and individuals whose religious beliefs, as defined under state law, would be substantially burdened by wearing a face covering
Individuals while in a school or school district facilities, in which case that school’s regulations and Ohio Department of Education guidelines should be followed
Where facial coverings are prohibited by law or regulation or would violate established employment practices or industry standards
While working as a public safety employee or emergency responder when it would interfere with their job, and those complying with directions from public safety employees and emergency responders
Any other exception applicable under an order from the Ohio Department of Health related to face coverings.
All enforcement of the proposed order would be issued by Summit County Public Health (SCPH). The Akron Police Department would have no role in enforcement under the local Akron proposal. Businesses that fail to enforce the requirements of the order within their establishment, after a warning and an opportunity to correct the violation, could face a potential civil penalty of $250. Individuals who fail to comply with the order, after a warning and an opportunity to correct the violation, could face a potential civil penalty of $50. Once the order goes into effect, the City will be making additional information and resources available to businesses and individuals seeking to comply with the order.
“Masks, along with social distancing and frequent hand washing have been shown to be very effective strategies,” said Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda. “I fully support Mayor Horrigan and members of City Council passing a mask ordinance so we can better control this viral outbreak.”
“The purpose of this order is not to make people afraid of forgetting their mask or hesitant to leave the house – it’s the opposite,” Mayor Dan Horrigan added. “Face coverings are a simple step we can take that enables us to continue to go about our daily lives and work, shop, eat out, and recreate, albeit with modifications, to help control the spread of COVID-19. All enforcement of this order will focus on education, outreach, and support.”
“Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank those who have already been taking these proactive precautions for weeks or months, and have sacrificed their comfort for the wellbeing of our community. I am so proud to lead a city full of caring and responsible residents who know that it will take all of us working together to get through this challenging time in our history.”