Norman City Council will address rising COVID-19 cases as it considers a new city ordinance mandating masks in certain public settings during its July 7 meeting.
Following the implementation of Phase 3 of the Healthier at Home plan June 12, Norman phased back into normal activities by allowing restaurants, retail and entertainment venues to operate at full capacity with safety precautions. This decision was succeeded by a spike in COVID-19 cases.
July 6, Norman reported a total of 567 cases with 314 of those cases following June 12, according to Oklahoma State Health Department data. To control the spread of the virus while also avoiding total business closures, the city council’s June 30 special session discussed the imposition of a mask requirement — which became Ordinance O-2021-3.
Ordinance O-2021-3, according to the June 7 meeting agenda, would require masks in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain, including places that offer goods and services and spaces where employees closely interact. Norman’s city manager would direct the development of required signage for businesses to post at their entrances.
Exceptions to this requirement would apply to individuals with cognitive or developmental disabilities, hearing impairments, individuals engaging in high-intensity activities such as swimming or exercising, children under the age of two, restaurant and bar patrons while eating and during dental or medical treatments, according to the meeting agenda.
Restaurants and bars would also increase social distancing practices under this ordinance by distancing seating arrangements, maintaining limited capacities, closing standing rooms and closing bars and bar areas of restaurants at 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends, according to the meeting agenda.
According to the ordinance, social distancing and mask requirements would allow Norman to implement “source control,” which refers to the prevention of respiratory droplets from spreading through coughs, sneezes, speaking or using a raised voice, according to the CDC. The ordinance was made in consideration of the public health emergency and rising cases in Norman.
A failure to comply with this ordinance, should it be put into effect, could result in counts such as criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, interference with official process and other warrantable offenses. Businesses lacking proper signage could face a $50–$500 fine, according to the meeting agenda.
If approved, the ordinance would expire November 30. The ordinance will be voted on July 7, followed by a separate vote on an emergency clause, allowing it to go into effect immediately after its approval.