Following two weeks of broken records for hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, active cases and single-day increases in cases and deaths, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has announced three executive orders to help slow the spread of the virus.
On Monday afternoon, Stitt said he is issuing an executive order with the following requirements:
- all restaurants must ensure all tables are spaced six feet apart, unless tables, booths and bar areas are separated by sanitized dividers. This is effective Thursday, Nov. 19.
- all bars and restaurants must close nightly by 11 p.m. This does not effect curbside pickup or drive-thru windows. This is effective Thursday, Nov. 19.
- all state employees must wear masks in common areas or when around others at work. Masks will also be required for anyone visiting a state building. This is effective Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Jim Hopper, the President and CEO of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association said he supported Stitt's orders and requested that all restaurant workers wear masks while at work.
House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat both announced after the press conference that their legislative bodies would observe the Governor's mask policy, even though they're not required to. Executive orders do not apply to the legislative branch.
"It's a reasonable precaution with case counts rising in Oklahoma County and statewide," said McCall.
Stitt said he would be implementing a daily call with statewide officials to inform them of hotspots in the state.
He also said he wants all school-aged children in Oklahoma back in traditional in-person learning by January. Stitt clarified that since this is a local control issue, he would not mandate it but wants to help make it happen. In the past week, schools in Oklahoma City, Blanchard, Cleveland, Edmond, Glenpool, Jenks, Owasso, Sand Springs and Yukon have pivoted to distance learning due to outbreaks or an increase of local cases of the virus.
Other states such as Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington have recently enacted more stringent rules to slow the spread of the virus, while Iowa, North Dakota and Utah have all recently implemented mask mandates of varying degrees.
Stitt has said repeatedly that he opposes a statewide mask mandate.