Here are some highlights and things to know about the ordinance McAlester city councilors approved to require protective face coverings in public.
1. When does the ordinance go into effect and when does it expire?
Councilors voted 4-3 on July 23 to approve the ordinance — but the emergency clause for it to immediately go into effect did not receive enough votes, so it will go into effect after 30 days. The ordinance is set to expire Nov. 30, 2020.
2. What counts as a protective face covering?
The ordinance states a face covering is "a covering, or mask, that fully covers a person's nose and mouth." The definition includes cloth facemasks, towels, scarves, and bandannas as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3. Where and when do I have to wear a protective face covering?
McAlester's ordinance states protective face coverings are required at all times in public service areas or places of public accommodation, or in a public setting where social distancing of six feet can't be maintained.
Places of public accommodation are places offering items, goods, or services for purchase or rent — including retail businesses, spas, entertainment venues, food service facilities, restaurants and bars, hotels, motels and more.
Public services areas are places of public accommodation where employees interact with the public in normal course of business.
Public settings are places where people congregate that are not places of public accommodation. this includes workplaces, houses of worship, child care facilities, hospital and health facilities, gyms and fitness facilities, and more.
4. Who is exempt from wearing a protective face covering?
• Anyone who falls into the CDC's guidance for those who should not wear them due to a diagnosed medical or mental health condition or development disability, or wearing a face covering would lead to a medical emergency. But the ordinance states any of these people should consider a face shield.
• Children younger 5 unless required by a school or day care to wear a face covering.
• Restaurant patrons while eating or drinking.
• People exercising in communal outdoor spaces or exercising with others from the same household while practicing social distancing.
• Anyone in settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a covering, such as dental services or medical treatments.
• Anyone in a personal vehicle, personal office, or similar private space while others are not present.
• Anyone in a private home.
• Anyone in offices and workplaces that are not public services areas where social distancing between employees and other occupants can be maintained.
5. What happens if I don't wear a mask?
The ordinances states "any employee, customer, user, student, or visitor denied entry to a Place of Public Accommodation, Educational Institution, or indoor Public Setting shall immediately leave said place, any person who refuses to leave, reacts to denial of entry with violence, or threats of violence of any sort shall be subject to prosecution under criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, or similar offenses as circumstances warrant."
Any person is violation is guilty of a misdemeanor and conviction shall warrant a fine of between $10 and $100.