Video: Council rescinds mandatory face coverings

After more than 75 minutes of discussion, the Guthrie city council voted on Tuesday to end the mandate of wearing a face covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In addition, the council agreed – by taking no action – to allow Ordinance 3331 to expire at midnight on Wednesday, May 5. The City will continue with the guidelines of Governor Kevin Stitt’s Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) plan. The complete plan can be viewed at the bottom of this article.

The council passed the shelter-in-place ordinance (Ordinance No. 3331), including face coverings, on April 6 in an effort to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Three weeks later on April 21, the council amended the ‘shelter in place.’ However, voted to keep the mask ordinance and prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people on certain public property.

On Tuesday evening during a teleconference call, the council voted 6-1 to rescind the face coverings. Mayor Steve Gentling cast the lone no vote.

“I think the city council mandating the mask sent a message, and I think relaxing that just a little bit sends another message,” Gentling said before the vote. “I’m concerned that if we give the message that it isn’t as important, because its no longer mandated, that we are going to see a significant release of people not wearing a mask.”

“Why take it away? It worked,” Gentling added.

Councilman Brian Bothroyd replied, “The mandate worked to get people to wear the mask. I think they will wear the mask when they go out. That’s what I hope. I believe in the community enough that they will do that.”

City leaders continue to recommend everyone to follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) health recommendations. Officials say they will roll out a social media campaign to help bring additional public awareness to individuals and businesses.

Properties and facilities, including, Guthrie Public Library, Highland Hall (except for the food preparation area), city playgrounds, pavilions, shelters, public restrooms, fitness courts, dog parks, disc golf courses, skate parks, recreation centers and sport courts are still closed off.

Guthrie Municipal Court dockets remain cancelled at the time.

The City will continue to postpone cutting off water service for customers.

The reopening phase of the listed facilities will be handled by City staff based on the CDC and the OURS plan.

Phase 1

Individual guidance:

• Continue following safer-at-home iii guidelines if they are over 65 or part of a vulnerable population

• Maximize social distance from others when in public (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas)

• Avoid socializing in groups or facilities that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing

• Minimize non-essential travel iv and adhere to CDC guidelines and Executive Orders regarding isolation following travel

Employer guidance:

• Create plans to allow employees to return to work in phases

• Close common areas or enforce social distancing protocols

• Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines and Executive Orders regarding isolation following travel

• Honor requests of personnel who are members of a vulnerable population for special accommodations

Specific Employer guidance:

• Schools and organized sporting events and camps that are currently closed should remain closed until further notice

• Visits to Senior Living Facilities and Hospitals are prohibited

April 24, 2020, the following businesses can reopen:

• Personal care businesses, such as hair salons, barbershops, spas, nail salons, and pet groomers can reopen for appointments only, must adhere to sanitation protocols, and follow guidelines posted on the Oklahoma Department of Commerce website regarding social distancing between customers and visitors at personal care businesses.

• State parks and outdoor recreation should be reopened

• Grocery stores should continue to maintain hours for vulnerable populations

May 1, 2020, the following businesses can reopen:

• Dining, entertainment, movie theatres and sporting venues can operate using CDCrecommended social distancing and sanitation protocols.

• Gyms can reopen if they adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols.

• Places of worship can reopen for in-person meetings or worship if they leave every other row or pew open and adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols, plus the recommended guidelines from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

• Bars should remain closed.

• Tattoo Parlors can reopen for appointments only and must adhere to sanitation protocols and social distancing protocols for distancing between customers and visitors. If hospital & incident rates remain at a manageable level for 14 days, we move to Phase 2.

Phase 2

Goal of May 15, 2020 (subject to all Phase 1 guidelines being met) Once hospital and incident rates remain at a manageable level for 14 more days, the following phase will apply:

Individual guidance:

• Continue following safer-at-home guidelines if they are over 65 or part of a vulnerable population

• Maintain social distancing from others when in public

• Avoid socializing in groups that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing

• Consider resuming non-essential travel

Employer guidance:

• Close common areas or enforce social distancing and sanitation protocols

• Honor requests of personnel who are members of a vulnerable population for special accommodations

• Employers are recommended to implement social distancing protocols, which include proper sanitation and use of protective equipment when interacting with the public

Specific Employer guidance:

• Organized sports activities can reopen and operate under proper social distancing and sanitation protocols

• Visits to Senior Care Facilities and Hospitals should still be prohibited

• Bars can operate with diminished standing-room occupancy, where applicable and appropriate, and under social distancing and sanitation protocols.

• Funerals and weddings can resume under social distancing protocols

• Children’s nursery areas in places of worship can reopen

If hospital & incident rates remain at a manageable level for 14 days, we move to Phase 3

Phase 3

Goal of June 1, 2020 (Subject to all guidelines being met)

Once hospital and incident rates remain at a manageable level statewide for 14 more days

Phase 3 will apply, which will allow for further public interaction.

Further details for Phase 3 will be provided once the state enters Phase 2, but the recommendations below are a starting point for planning purposes.

Employer guidance:

• Can resume unrestricted staffing of worksites

Specific Employer guidance:

• Summer camps (church and school) can open

• Visits to Senior Care Facilities and Hospitals should still be prohibited

3 Comments on "Video: Council rescinds mandatory face coverings"

  1. Martin Hoel | May 6, 2020 at 7:23 am | Reply

    thank you city council

  2. Why are you thanking them? Wearing masks is about protecting the rights of others, not your misguided belief that you have a right to NOT wear a mask. It’s like secondhand smoke. Your right to smoke does not outweigh the citizens rights to not be exposed to it. I had high hopes for the younger generations to help pull Oklahoma out of it’s ultra conservative political stance, but I guess the community traditions continue to pull us down. Obama didn’t take your guns, no one is telling you can’t worship your god of choice, no one is taking away your rights. Stop being so selfish. Oh, and before you spout off about our founding fathers, just remember they had no knowledge of Germ Theory. Unless, you’re an anti-vaxxer too. What’s next, “I have a right to not get vaccinated”? Ridiculous!

  3. concerned citizen | May 7, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Reply

    Amen AJ

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