On Tuesday evening, the City of Midwest City voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that requires the use of face coverings in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance went into effect immediately.
Councilman Pat Byrne emphasized the importance of passing the ordinance in order to avoid another shutdown.
"It's not only a safety deal, but it's what's going to keep our economy going, Byrne said. "We rolled the dice when we shut down the economy in March. We were lucky. We can't do that again. We've got to keep it open."
The ordinance requires face coverings to be worn over the nose and mouth in indoor places open to the public, and when social distancing is not feasible. This includes public or private schools or preschools, except for playing surfaces during athletic activities or practices. It also includes house of worship, including recreation centers, Sunday School classrooms and children's centers.
People exempt from the face-covering requirement include children under the age of 10, people of the same household exercising or playing sports and people who a medical or mental health condition or with a developmental disability. People are also exempt while eating or drinking, while receiving dental services or while swimming or using a "spray park."
Face coverings will also not be required in private homes, personal vehicles, personal offices or workplaces that are not public service areas and where employees can social distance.
There is no specific penalty for individuals violating the ordinance, but they could be subject to prosecution under criminal trespass, disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct.
The emergency ordinance went into effect immediately on Tuesday evening. It is set to expire on September 22, when it will be reconsidered by the council to be repealed, modified or extended.