CLEVELAND — Prior to Tuesday's Cuyahoga County Council meeting, the plan proposed by county executive Armond Budish requiring face coverings be worn in public became available.
However, shortly after the meeting began, Gov. Mike DeWine announced his mandate that seven counties in the state, including Cuyahoga, wear masks.
The seven counties selected come as a result of the state's tracking of its coronavirus numbers and a system it has adopted to assess the severity of its spread. The seven counties selected for the order are the counties currently in at Level 3 (red level) of the system, which is the second most severe behind purple. Any county that advances to the red level will be added to the order, while a reduction to Level 2 (orange) will drop the county from the order.
The mandate is to begin at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
Cuyahoga County Council read Budish's ordinance into its record and will decide its next steps after it reads DeWine's order. The matter will be referred to a committee.
According to the ordinance that Budish was to introduce, there are three requirements for wearing face coverings in the county:
- In any outdoor public space when a person is unable to maintain physical separation of not less than six feet from others who are not members of the person’s household.
- When in indoor areas accessible and open to the public and while waiting in line to enter such areas when it is not possible to maintain physical separation of not less than six feet from others who are not members of the person’s household.
- In any public transportation such as a bus or other public transit vehicle and any ride-share vehicle or vehicle for hire and while waiting for any public transportation when it is not possible to maintain physical separation of not less than six feet from others who are not members of the person’s household.
However, the ordinance will not apply to those who meet the following conditions:
- Persons under the age of six
- Persons with a medical condition or developmental disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering
- Religious facilities
- Restaurant and bar patrons while seated at his or her table or at the bar while eating or drinking
- Individuals in a school setting in compliance with any regulations or requirements of a school district
- In settings where it is not practicable or feasible to wear a face covering such as when receiving dental services, medical treatments, or while swimming
- When walking or exercising outdoors so long as physical separation of not less than six feet is maintained, or while walking or exercising outdoors with other members of the same household
- While actually engaged in exercising in a gym or other similar indoor facility so long as physical separation of not less than six feet is maintained and the individual wears a face covering at all times when not actually engaged in exercising;
- When an individual is in his or her work office, conference room, or other workspace not intended for use by the general public;
- When inside a personal or commercial vehicle either parked or moving that is not a vehicle being used for public transit;
- Individuals while acting in their official capacity as a public safety employee or emergency responder when wearing a face covering would interfere with or limit their ability to carry out their official duties or functions, including peace officers, firefighters, and other public safety or emergency medical personnel that support public safety operations;
- Individuals complying with the directions of public safety employees or emergency responders as described in the previous point.
According to the ordinance, any city or municpality within the county may “opt out” of the plan with 'appropriate legislation' declaring that the intent of the ordinance shall not be effective within the municipality’s jurisdiction. In the event any municipality within the county enacts legislation related to wearing face coverings, the municipality’s legislation shall prevail.
Any person found in violation of this ordinance will be subject to a written warning on the first violation and a civil penalty of $50.00 for a second and each subsequent violation.
On Friday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson signed an executive order mandating all people within the city be required to wear face masks while out in public. Similar requirements are in effect in Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati.