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Jenks Makes Face Masks Mandatory

Jenks City Council members vote on an ordinance requiring the wearing of masks in public over Zoom videoconference on November 10, 2020.

Starting immediately, face masks must be worn in the City of Jenks.

On Tuesday evening, Jenks City Council narrowly voted 4-3 to adopt an ordinance that requires the use of face coverings in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.

The ordinance requires face coverings to be worn in:

  • places offering items, goods or services for purchase or rent (retail, restaurants, bars, hotels, banks, entertainment venues, personal services and more)
  • educational institutions (except for playing surfaces during games or practices)
  • places where employees interact with the public
  • public places where people congregate (workplaces, churches, child care facilities, hospitals, gyms, parks and more)

Jenks is now the second city to make such an ordinance in Tulsa County, which as of Wednesday has seen 25,370 cases of the virus, 231 total deaths and currently has 3,266 active cases.
During the meeting, which lasted about four hours, citizens, doctors and public health officials spoke in favor of and against the ordinance.

Opponents talked about personal freedoms, worries about missing out on new businesses and how masks are sometimes misused. Several spouted conspiracy theories about the effectiveness of masks.

Calling the pandemic "an urgent situation," Mayor Robert Lee spoke in favor of the ordinance and eventually broke a tie to enact the mandate.

"We're not going to let conspiracy theories guide our public policy," Lee said. "It's time we finally listen to the vast majority of the medical community. Health experts on every level who are begging us to do this."

People exempt from the face-covering requirement include children under the age of 10, people walking or exercising in communal outdoor spaces and people with certain disabilities, mental health or medical conditions. People are also exempt while eating or drinking, while receiving dental or medical services or while swimming.

Face coverings will also not be required in private homes, personal vehicles, personal offices or offices and workplaces that are not public service areas and where physical distancing can be maintained.

Violations of the ordinace will result in a $200 fine, but the council says convictions would not come from a court of record.

The emergency ordinance went into effect immediately Saturday and will expire on January 31, 2021.

Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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