Mayor Ginther Signs Columbus Council Mask Ordinance, Putting Fines Into Immediate Effect

Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther on Tuesday afternoon signed a beefed-up city mask mandate approved by the City Council Monday evening, meaning potential city fines for failing to mask up in most indoor public places are now immediately in effect. 

The mask mandate applies to anyone over the age of 2 and whether you have been vaccinated or not. 

After an initial warning, the city Health Department can fine businesses $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses for any customers or staff failing to wear masks.

Individuals also can be fined $100 after a warning.  That's up from $25 originally in response to concerns from businesses about getting fined for noncomplying customers. The fines for individuals grows to $250 for any subsequent offenses.

The fines add teeth to an emergency executive order issued by Ginther last week.

The fines are "civil" penalties, and police officers won't be involved in enforcing the mandate. However, law enforcement will be authorized to enforce trespassing laws if someone who refuses to comply with the mask mandate is asked by representatives of the restaurants, bars, grocery stores or other publicly accessible buildings to leave the premises and does not.  

In addition to businesses open to the public, the mandate applies also to bus or other public transit vehicles, airports, bus and train stations, taxis or any other vehicles for hire, even if privately owned. It doesn't apply to people traveling in their own cars.

The mandate also applies to all workers in long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes, mental health group homes, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The ordinance contains a lengthy list of exemptions, including for religious facilities, emergency workers, schools, state and federal offices, and 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."

The mandate will remain in effect until either Ginther or the City Council revokes it.

wbush@gannett.com

@ReporterBush

Source : https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/2021/09/14/ginther-signs-indoor-mask-law-stiffer-fines-but-exemptions-aplenty/8338838002/

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