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Mask Mandates Allowed To Expire In Oklahoma's Two Largest Cities

 A spray-painted sign outside Builders Warehouse in Oklahoma City, Okla. tells customers about mask requirement.
Mairead Todd / KOSU
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A spray-painted sign outside Builders Warehouse in Oklahoma City, Okla. tells customers about mask requirement.

As of Friday, Oklahoma’s two largest cities have no mask mandate. City officials say they’re shifting their focus away from "stop the spread" and to vaccines.

"The role of municipal government in halting the spread of the virus has now ended, as it was always meant to," said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt in a Friday press conference.

One year, one month and 15 days after he first addressed the city about the oncoming public health emergency, he announced the end of the city’s mask mandate after the city council allowed the municipal ordinance to expire. Tulsa’s mask mandate also ended on Friday.

Although the city mask mandates have expires, property owners can still require them, similar to longstanding "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" requirements.

"We're just reminding everyone that they still need to wear a mask in places where they’re required, or choose to go somewhere else," said Oklahoma City Manager Craig Freeman in a written statement. "There will be places to shop and gather that require masks, and places that don't. We're hopefully on the exit ramp for this pandemic. It's more important than ever to show each other respect and grace as we navigate the spring and summer."

People who are lawfully asked to leave private or public spaces, but refuse, are subject to citation and arrest for trespassing.

Holt noted that in its worst times, Oklahoma County was seeing 1,000 new cases daily and about 700 people would be hospitalized across the county. Those figures have fallen by 90 percent. Statewide, the new case average is less than 300 a day.

He said this is a new chapter, when vaccinations take priority.

"As you watch me speak these words right now, you are just a click, a phone call and a short drive away from your vaccination — something people around our planet are desperate for," Holt said.

Despite abundant vaccine supply, only about a quarter of Oklahoma adults have completed their vaccine series.

Everyone aged 16 years and older are eligible to get vaccinated.

Appointments are available through many doctors, as well as at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Sam's Club and other pharmacies. Those needing an appointment can also call 2-1-1, use the state’s appointment portal at vaccinate.ok.gov, OKC-County Health Department's appointment sign-up at vaxokc.com or the federal vaccine locator at vaccines.gov.

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