AKRON, Ohio — The City of Akron has now joined a growing list of Ohio cities requiring face coverings throughout the city amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring face coverings in addition to Governor Mike DeWine's state-issued order mandating masks in counties with high COVID-19 spread.
As Summit County enters the status of Level 3 red, triggering a state-issued order mandating masks be worn in public, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan introduced the legislation requiring face coverings be worn in the city under most circumstances last week.
While the order is immediately in effect throughout the entirety of Summit County under the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan says the passing of the local ordinance will allow Akron to pursue civil penalties (instead of the criminal penalties available under the state order) and to maintain the mandatory face covering order as long as necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19.
At the meeting, Mayor Horrigan said, "We didn't necessarily want to get here, but we are here as a community."
Situations when face coverings are required under the local order:
- While inside public areas of a place of business or City of Akron facility, and when entering, exiting, or waiting in line to enter those areas of a place of business or City of Akron facility.
- In any outdoor space where physical distancing of at least six feet is not maintained from others who are not members of the same household.
- In any public transportation such as a bus, taxi or ride sharing service.
- In common areas of a multi-unit housing building, including, but not limited to, hallways, stairways, elevators, and lobbies.
- Places of business shall require face coverings for paying customers and for employees that interact with the public.
Exceptions and situations when face coverings are not required under the local order:
- Those who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical, mental health, developmental condition
- Children under the age of ten
- Those who are unable to remove the face mask without assistance and anyone who should not wear face coverings under CDC guidance
- While eating or drinking, and bar and restaurant patrons while sitting at their own table or place at the bar
- When inside a personal or commercial vehicle that is not public transportation
- When actually exercising at a gym with six feet of physical distance
- Exercising or walking outdoors with six feet of physical distance or with members of the same household
- Inside a workspace not intended for use by the general public
- Inside religious institutions, and individuals whose religious beliefs, as defined under state law, would be substantially burdened by wearing a face covering
- Individuals while in a school or school district facilities, in which case that school’s regulations and Ohio Department of Education guidelines should be followed
- Where facial coverings are prohibited by law or regulation or would violate established employment practices or industry standards
- While working as a public safety employee or emergency responder when it would interfere with their job, and those complying with directions from public safety employees and emergency responders
- Any other exception applicable under an order from the Ohio Department of Health related to face coverings.
Individuals who fail to comply with the order, after a warning and an opportunity to correct the violation, could face a potential civil penalty of $50.
The new ordinance remains in effect until further action of Council, in consultation with Summit County Public Health. Read the ordinance in its entirety below.