Bowling Green city council passes mask ordinance

The city council unanimously passed a city-wide mask ordinance.
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 6:00 AM EDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - The Bowling Green city council unanimously passed a city-wide mask ordinance.

The move follows cities like Toledo, Dayton, and Columbus in an effort to combat COVID-19.

Many concerns were raised at the meeting, ranging from the economy to public health, to the rights of citizens and the idea of Bowling Green State University students returning in the fall.

Wood County has recorded 518 total cases of coronavirus, but the hope is that number does not continue to rise with the help of this new mandatory mask ordinance.

Similar to other cities, Bowling Green’s ordinance will apply to all businesses and public places, excluding religious facilities, schools, and outdoor locations when people can maintain social distancing. Masks will be required while walking into gyms until people are actually exercising. The same idea goes for those going out to eat until they are seated at their table.

Passionate citizens spoke both in favor and opposed to the ordinance. Bowling Green resident Vassiliki Leontis brought homemade signs she’d seen posted at hospitals praising healthcare workers to support her speech in favor of passing the ordinance.

“If we really think they’re heroes, we need to honor that with action, not just words,” explained Leontis.

Much responsibility will be up to individual businesses, like Beckett’s Burger Bar downtown. Manager Blake Reeder says all CDC guidelines are being followed, with all employees wearing a mask on the job. This is something they will be explaining to patrons with signs on the door, telling them to also mask-up.

“It’s very important that we all do our part to kind of contain everything and make sure that we’re doing what we can to progress everything for it so I’m comfortable with denying service for it.,” Reeder said.

Legally enforcing masks will fall onto the police department. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick says his officers will follow the ordinance.

“We’re prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure compliance, be that warnings if someone is absolutely resistive to it then a citation might be in order.”

People who have medical conditions and children under the age of six are exempt from wearing a mask. Others who do not wear one face a $50 fine.

City Council President Mark Hollenbaugh says many voices were heard before the ordinance was officially passed at the meeting.

“I had well north of 200 emails over the past two weeks and I know other council members had similar numbers so there was definitely ample opportunity for people to provide input,” confirms Hollenbaugh.

One amendment made to the ordinance was the termination date. That was changed from December 31st, 2020 to October 31st, 2020. The date can be reevaluated by the council sooner if needed.

The emergency piece of legislation goes into effect as soon as it is signed by the mayor.

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