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This article was archived on 12/31/2020

Tulsa City Council Approves Face Covering Ordinance

The Tulsa City Council voted 7-2 to approve a face covering ordinance on July 15. The ordinance requires people to wear face coverings in public, with some exceptions, effective July 16 at 9 a.m.

Health authorities have repeatedly emphasized that wearing face coverings is one of the most important and effective tools for reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Given the current status of COVD-19 in the City of Tulsa, requiring the use of face coverings is a targeted response that can combat the threat to public health using the least restrictive means, and if people follow this requirement, more extreme measures may be avoided.

Wearing a face covering is important not only to protect oneself, but also to avoid unknowingly harming fellow Tulsans and others with whom they may come into contact, especially given many people who go into public may have COVID-19 without knowing it because they have no symptoms.

When in public where social or physical distancing cannot be maintained, people are required to wear face coverings at all times. This means all places offering items, goods or services for purchase or rent, including retail businesses, personal services and spas, entertainment venues, food service facilities, restaurants and bars, hotels, motels and travel related services, professional offices and services, banks and financial services, repair facilities and motor vehicle dealerships. It also includes Educational Buildings.

The following persons, locations and activities are exempt from this requirement:
1. Persons who fall into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance for those who should not wear Face Coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or developmental disability.
2. Children under 18 years of age.
3. Restaurant patrons while they are eating or drinking.
4. Persons exercising in communal outdoor spaces, or persons walking or exercising with other persons from the same household in communal outdoor spaces, as long as Physical Distancing is maintained. Persons congregating in communal outdoor spaces with other persons not in their same household are required to wear Face Coverings when Physical Distancing is not maintained.
5. Settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a Face Covering, such as dental services, medical treatments or while swimming.
6. Occupants in a personal vehicle, personal office, or similarly private space while other persons outside of the person's household are not present.
7. Private homes.
8. Offices and workplaces that are not Public Service Areas where Physical Distancing between employees and other occupants can be consistently maintained during hours of operation.

There is no specific penalty for violation of this ordinance. However, persons refusing to wear a face covering in public shall be subject to prosecution under criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct or similar offenses as circumstances warrant. The ordinance will be enforced by the Tulsa Police Department.

Effective Date
This ordinance was passed with the emergency clause, meaning an emergency is declared to exist for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety. Therefore, the ordinance takes effect immediately after it is signed by the Mayor. The Mayor signed the ordinance at 9 a.m. on July 16.

This ordinance shall expire on November 30, 2020, which is the expiration of all Civil Emergency Orders related to COVID-19 issued by the Mayor. Also, the ordinance can be repealed, modified or extended by the City Council through a subsequent ordinance.

If any section, sentence, clause, or phrase of the ordinance is for any reason found to be invalid by a court, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remainder of the ordinance.

Face Coverings
Face coverings should fully cover a person's nose and mouth. This includes, but is not limited to, cloth face masks, towels, scarves, and bandanas as recommended by the CDC or OSDH, an N95, KN95, or other mask that would be appropriate for a health care setting, or a surgical mask. The face covering should fit snuggly on a person's face but allow the person to breathe easily and worn consistent with the guidance provided by the CDC or OSDH.

The City of Tulsa is charged with the solemn responsibility of protecting the public peace, health, order, morals, and safety, and promoting the general welfare of the City of Tulsa and its inhabitants.

On March 15, 2020, the Governor of the State of declared an emergency caused by the impending threat of COVID-19 to the people of this State and the public’s peace, health and safety which remains in effect today.

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Mayor of the City of Tulsa, issued Executive Order 2020-02 declaring a civil emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses an imminent threat to health, safety and welfare in the City of Tulsa.

On Thursday, July 2, 2020, the Mayor of the City of Tulsa, issued Executive Order 2020-13 extending the civil emergency, requiring a safety plan for all events and gatherings with 500 or more attendees, and requiring bar and restaurant employees to wear face coverings while working.

As of the 14th day of July, 2020, there were 1,099 active cases (5,448 total cases diagnosed) of COVID-19 in Tulsa County.

As of the 14th day of July, 2020, there were 117 COVID-19 positive patients in the hospital, 81 of those persons in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), with an additional 11 cases in the ICU still under investigation for suspected COVID-19, and only 45 adult ICU beds still available in Tulsa County. 135 patients were treated the same day in acute care clinical settings.

As of the 14th day of July, 2020, the State of Oklahoma is not meeting the White House Opening Up America Again gating criteria for downward trajectory of cases or the downward trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests, nor is Tulsa County meeting the 14 day trend of such downward trajectory.

The Mayor of the City of Tulsa, issued multiple executive orders in response to COVID-19 using the least restrictive means available to protect public health, safety and welfare in the City of Tulsa and ensure an effective response to this disaster.

The City of Tulsa reopened in the midst of COVID-19, increased spread is to be expected, and the key to controlling the spread and keeping the City of Tulsa safe is for all people to consistently follow good hygiene and social-distancing practices.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings, particularly when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and when around people who do not live in the same household and;

The Mayor of the City of Tulsa, joined with the Executive Director of the Tulsa Health Department, and other public health officials in consistently encouraging people to use face coverings, and health authorities have repeatedly emphasized that wearing face coverings is one of the most important and effective tools for reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Due to recent substantial increases in COVID-19 positive cases and increases in the COVID-19 positivity rate and hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19, further measures are needed to achieve the least restrictive means for reducing the growing spread of COVID-19, and to avoid a need for more extreme measures.

It is deemed necessary for the protection of the public health and safety of the City of Tulsa and its inhabitants to prevent the introduction and spread of the contagious disease COVID-19 to preserve the peace, and to provide civil defense and emergency functions.