AKRON, Ohio — As Summit County enters the status of Level 3 red, triggering a state-issued order mandating masks be worn in public, the mayor of Akron has introduced legislation requiring face coverings be worn in the city under most circumstances.
The legislation will be considered by council on Monday, July 13, and if passed, will take effect immediately.
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 passing a 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.
Once passed, the city of Akron order would remain until further action of Council, in consultation with Summit County Public Health.
"I take my duties as Mayor very seriously and the most crucial charge of my position is protecting the safety and wellbeing of the citizens of Akron. This face covering order will help keep Akron businesses open, help get our kids back into school, and ultimately and most importantly, save lives. Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It is a way of showing common courtesy and kindness to your fellow citizens. I wear my mask to protect your family and you wear yours to protect mine, and that is how community works," Horrigan said in a statement.
Situations when face coverings will be 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.
Horrigan says enforcement of the proposed order would be issued by Summit County Public Health (SCPH). The Akron Police Department would have no role in enforcement under the local Akron proposal. Businesses that fail to enforce the requirements of the order within their establishment, after a warning and an opportunity to correct the violation, could face a potential civil penalty of $250.
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.
Once the order goes into effect, the city will be making additional information and resources available to businesses and individuals seeking to comply with the order.
“Masks, along with social distancing and frequent hand washing have been shown to be very effective strategies,” said Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda. “I fully support Mayor Horrigan and members of City Council passing a mask ordinance so we can better control this viral outbreak.”
Similar measures were taken last week by Columbus, Dayton, and Cleveland.