FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
After hearing from more than 60 speakers and reading around 12,000 written and transcribed comments, City Council approved an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings in public spaces to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. The vote was 8-0-1 with Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson abstaining from the vote. Face coverings are defined as a device that covers the nose and mouth. Two amendments were also approved: exempting wedding parties from being required to wear masks during the ceremony and photos and exempting speakers, performers and clergy while addressing and performing, provided they can maintain six feet of distancing from any other person.
The ordinance, which comprises Phase 3A of the City’s Road to Recovery Plan, takes effect at 12:01 a.m. July 16 and is effective through 11:59 p.m. Oct. 14, unless extended, rescinded, superseded or amended.
"This is a health crisis and not a time for civil disobedience," said Mayor Ken McClure, at the meeting. "I challenge every member of this community to assume personal responsibility. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home if you are the slightest bit sick. There is much at stake here. If the community does not step up and help us reduce our numbers, or at least not make them worse, our only option will be to go backwards and reinstate more drastic measures, which is a step that none of us wish to take. That responsibility falls to the Mayor under the emergency provisions of City Code. That is a decision I absolutely do not want to make, but I will if the data require."
In addition to the face covering provision, the ordinance continues some of the Road to Recovery Plan Phase 3 occupancy requirements and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended physical distancing (6 feet) and sanitation measures. Restaurants no longer have occupancy restrictions, but are required to separate groups at least 6 feet apart unless there are solid barriers at least 6 feet tall between tables. Counter/bar seating and self-service buffets are still not permitted.
Under the ordinance, everyone over the age of 11 will be required to wear a face covering when in public spaces in the city limits of Springfield. Exemptions are made for those with health or breathing conditions that prohibits wearing a face covering, who are hearing impaired and people communicating with individuals who are hearing impaired.
Other exemptions include:
- While consuming food and drink
- While at a swimming pool
- While obtaining a service involving the face or nose for which the temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service
- While playing a sport, exercising or using exercising equipment while exerting themselves
- While working in settings which might increase the risk of heat-related illnesses
- While outdoors and maintaining a 6-foot distance from others or while outdoors and are closer than 6 feet to solely members of their own household
- While speaking, addressing an audience or performing and are able to maintain a 6-foot distance from others
- While serving as a member of a wedding party during the wedding ceremony and/or taking wedding photos.
On July 6, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department presented City Council with scientific evidence and ordinance considerations as well as the policy and enforcement considerations of a universal community masking policy.
Last week, the public had the opportunity to express their opinion on masking through online and voicemail portals, as well as speaking at the public hearing.
“The Springfield-Greene County Health Department takes an evidence-based approach to protect and promote the health of our community. Evidence continues to underline the effectiveness of wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and as such, is the recommendation of this department,” said Clay Goddard, Director of Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
Employers can order facemasks through any supplier. One option is the Missouri PPE market place located on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website.
It is recommended that businesses place signs on their entrances to notify customers/visitors of the mask requirement. Springfield-Greene County Health Department has created signs that all businesses can print and place on their doors, or businesses can create their own signage.
Education will be the first step in enforcement. The Springfield Police Department and Health Department will work to educate any violators of the ordinance before citations are issued.
Failure to comply can result in a $100 fine for individuals, businesses, governments or non-profit entities. Each individual within or working for the entity is considered a separate violation. Violations can be reported by emailing [email protected] or by calling 417-864-1010. If a customer at a business refuses to wear a face covering and is causing immediate danger to the business’s staff, call 911.
For questions about the ordinance, please call 417-874-1211 option 3 or visit the FAQs page of the City’s website.
Due to an unprecedented number of speakers at tonight’s meeting, the City and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department will host a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Public Safety Center, 330 W. Scott, to discuss the ordinance in more detail and to provide a COVID-19 update.
For more information, contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-380-3352 or [email protected].