The city of Dayton is the first major Ohio city to mandate masks in public spaces to address rising cases of the new coronavirus.
City commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance Wednesday night that requires face coverings inside all places of business and public spaces starting 8 a.m. Friday. At least two other smaller Ohio communities have put in place mask requirements: Yellow Springs in Southwest Ohio and Bexley, a suburb east of Columbus.
“This is a decision that is based in data and it’s a decision that’s been based in that we know so much more about masks,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said during a Wednesday news conference.
The ordinance requires everyone to cover their nose and mouth when in an enclosed space with others or an outdoor space where 6 feet of social distancing is not possible. That includes public transportation, rideshares and entering, exiting or standing in line to enter a business. The ordinance does not apply outside city limits.
There are exemptions:
- people who cannot wear a mask due to health conditions or a disability,
- children under age 6,
- bar or restaurant patrons who are eating or drinking,
- students and school staff members,
- public safety employees and first responders,
- while exercising outdoors or indoors at least 6 feet away from others, or
- while at a religious facility.
Ohio reported 1,076 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday – the largest number added in one day since April.
Dayton’s Montgomery County and Cincinnati’s Hamilton County have been singled out by state health officials for recent spikes in COVID-19 cases and increases in hospitalizations. Dr. Michael Dohn, medical director for Dayton & Montgomery Public Health, said the number of people in the county with active infections on a given day had averaged 125 but was about 427 on Tuesday.
“That’s not just more testing, that’s people who are sick,” Dohn said. “They’re seeking medical care. The hospitals are seeing more people.”
[ The Enquirer is providing most of its coronavirus-related stories free to readers. We can’t do this work without your support. Please consider a digital subscription to Cincinnati.com. ]
Gov. Mike DeWine, who flip-flopped on a statewide face mask mandate in late April, said he supported the Dayton ordinance and encouraged others to follow the city’s lead.
“It’s an appropriate and welcome response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in their area,” DeWine, a Republican, said in a statement. “Masks are recommended by the CDC and medical professionals to help protect other people. Wearing a mask will allow us to help keep businesses open and help prevent further spikes.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said through a spokeswoman that he is “seriously considering” a mask ordinance for the capital city. Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach said in a tweet Wednesday night he would push for a vote on mask legislation next week if Mayor John Cranley didn’t issue a mandate.
Whaley said the city has bought 45,000 masks to give out to residents who need them.
Businesses are asked to ask people to leave if they don’t comply and call the police if they refuse to leave. Violating the ordinance is punishable by a fine of $85, but Whaley said it’s not intended to be a “gotcha” law but to encourage people to wear masks.
“What we’re trying to do is raise culture here and say this is what you have to do in Dayton to be a good citizen,” Whaley said. “You need to stop at stoplights, you need to wear shoes on your feet when you go into the grocery store, you need to wear shirts and you need to wear a mask when you’re in public.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2020/07/01/coronavirus-ohio-dayton-first-major-ohio-city-mandate-masks/5359530002/