Mayor John Cranley said Cincinnati City Council is expected to discuss and vote tomorrow on an ordinance to require the use of masks in public places, similar to the one just unanimously passed by the Dayton City Commission.
"I support an ordinance, properly constructed, to require mask wearing," Cranley said during a press briefing. "Masks are our best hope to keep the economy afloat and to keep people safe."
He said the ordinances being drafted are modeled after Dayton's law, which specifically focuses on mandated mask use in indoor businesses. Dayton's ordinance includes a list of situations in which mask wearing is not required, like when you're seated at a restaurant or bar eating or drinking or when you're in your own private office. (You can read the full Dayton ordinance at daytonohio.gov.)
"This is not a ban or a requirement to wear a mask if you're out walking, if you're in a park, if you're in a rec center exercising — there are explicit exceptions for that in the ordinance. This is a requirement that you wear a mask when you're at a public accommodation or business location in close proximity to others," Cranley said.
He said those who violate whatever mask requirement city council passes would be subject to a civil — not a criminal — fine and the ordinances being drafted now have that fine set at less than Dayton's $85. Violations would be enforced by police and businesses would not be "obligated to perform a police function," Cranley said.
Last night, in response to Dayton's new law, council member P.G. Sittenfeld tweeted:
...there will clearly need to be some exceptions, such as people with respiratory issues; small businesses should not be liable when an individual customer was in the wrong, etc.— P.G. Sittenfeld (@PGSittenfeld) July 2, 2020
Let's be safe by being smart - but not sacrifice equity in the process. (3/3)
A sentiment echoed by Cranley.
The mayor also noted that council member Jan-Michele Kearney raised the issue of enforcement and racial impact, and was contemplating whether an ordinance or a resolution (a statement, not a law) would be more appropriate.
Cranley said all would be discussed tomorrow during the council meeting, including how severe the penalty should be, how it is enforced, where does it apply, questions of access to masks, religious concerns and more.
"There's no question this will be controversial. There's no question we will be likely sued by whatever we do, if it's an ordinance," he said.
But, Cranley said, "We are in unanimous agreement that everyone should wear a mask."
In a Facebook post, the city said:
"Special meetings of the Budget & Finance Committee and Cincinnati City Council will take place Friday morning (July 30). The purpose is to discuss and take action on items related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the wearing of facial coverings. Budget & Finance will take place at 11:30 a.m., with City Council scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. The meetings can be watched in real-time on this Facebook page, or by tuning in to CitiCable or visiting www.cincinnati-oh.gov/media. Public comments and questions from the public may be submitted to City Council by email at [email protected]ncinnati-oh.gov."