Cincinnati City Council passes mask ordinance

Officials with the Pritzker Administration announced Monday they'll be distributing face masks...
Officials with the Pritzker Administration announced Monday they'll be distributing face masks to businesses in an effort to help restart the economy. This will include thousands of masks. Thousands of thermometers will be distributed to licensed daycare facilities across the state as well. (MGN Image)(KWQC)
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 2:23 PM EDT
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City Council members passed the mask ordinance Friday.

The ordinance is co-sponsored by council members Greg Landsman and Jan-Michele Kearney.

It would require masks to be worn in the City of Cincinnati “when entering, exiting, or waiting in an indoor line to enter a place of business that is open to the public, and while inside a place of business in the areas within the place of business that are accessible to, and are intended for the use of, the public.”

Exemptions exist for those who cannot wear masks because of a medical condition, mental health condition or developmental disability.

Violators are subject to a civil fine of $25.

Mayor John Cranley said in a Thursday news conference that he supports a mask-wearing ordinance.

“It’s no question that we will be likely sued with whatever we do if it’s an ordinance,” the mayor said. “And so, I think we’re on the strongest legal ground if there is a full hearing, legislative action, legislative discussion, law passed.”

Council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach and Jan-Michele Kearney tweeted statements backing a mask requirement.

Seelbach wrote: “A month ago Ohio saw 400 new positive cases/day. Yesterday, we saw over 1,000 in a single day. Hopeful Mayor, under the emergency declaration, will issue mandatory masks in public.

“If that doesn’t happen, I’ll work with my colleagues to call a special session of Council next week to introduce and pass legislation to require masks in Cincinnati.”

Councilmember Jeff Pastor dissented, writing:

“Mandating masks is one step too far. I will strongly oppose any ordinance requiring citizens to wear mask. Private business and entry into government buildings requiring masks, cool. Times are getting crazier by the day.”

Later he wrote: “In a free society, we must resist the nanny state!”

Pastor also wrote in reply to Landsman’s statement of support for the measure: “And what punishment do you want to impose on someone enjoying a public park without a mask?”

Councilmember Betsy Sunderman is also dissenting: “Requiring masks for everyone in Cincy is government overreach. There re way too many factors to consider to make it enforceable: age, disability, lip reading necessity, mental illness, disparate enforcement, accessibility to masks, and increased interaction with law enforcement.”

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman says he just returned from vacation and has some “detailed questions” about the ordinance. “I have sent those questions throughout the evening to the administration & early AM. Some have been answered,” Smitherman said.

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