What it could mean for you if masks become mandatory

Posted at 3:52 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 15:52:57-04

CLEVELAND — States across the country are beginning to require residents to wear a face mask while away from their homes and out in public. While Ohio is not one of those states, some cities such as Dayton and Columbus have enacted local measures to make face masks mandatory.

To see a list of states that have some type of mandatory mask order, click here.

Dayton was the first major city in Ohio to pass an ordinance for mask-wearing. Going off of that city’s ordinance and orders in effect in other states and cities as a guideline, this is, in general, what you could expect if your city follows suit.

Where would I need to wear a mask?
The Dayton ordinance requires that anyone inside an enclosed public space with other individuals present wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth. This is common to most orders and ordinances requiring masks, including California's statewide order, which has been in effect since June 18.

What about outside?
You probably would not be required to wear a mask outside unless you are with a crowd or in a location where you couldn’t maintain a social distance of six feet. Dayton's order requires masks outside only "where or when a person is unable to maintain or does not maintain physical separation of not less than six feet from others who are not members of their own household."

Other orders are less specific about wearing masks outdoors, such as Delaware's, which says: "Delawareans over the age of 12 are required to wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."

While there does not seem to be widespread consensus on when masks should be required outside, the general guidance from the CDC is that they should be worn "in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain." Expect any orders mandating masks to follow those general guidelines, so yes, you may have to wear one while waiting in line for something outside such as at a local ice cream stand.

Even shopping?
Yes, even shopping. Most orders, including Dayton's, mandate mask-wearing at any business. That would mean at retail shops, bars, hotels, gyms, spas, restaurants or healthcare facilities. In Dayton, the mask may be removed while eating or drinking. More exceptions in Section 3 here.

Ohio's state orders already require retail employees, restaurant workers and most public-facing employees to wear masks on shift.

How about in church?
Your church, mosque or temple most likely won’t have a requirement to wear a mask, but if you want to look out for your fellow man, masks are recommended. Gov. DeWine has been careful to recommend but not place restrictions on religious gatherings, even as restrictive lockdowns were placed on non-essential businesses.

However, requiring masks at churches and during religious services is not unheard of in other parts of the country. Virginia's mask mandate requires masks in church but allows parishioners to remove them for religious rituals.

What if I Uber to work?
Using public transportation, including ride-share services, would most certainly require you to wear a mask. Dayton's order, as well as many other orders across the country, do specifically mandate masks for riders and drivers in public transport and ride-share vehicles.

Dayton's order, for example, states:

"In any public transportation such as a bus or other public transit vehicle, a taxi or ridesharing vehicle or any other vehicle for hire, or at a transit stop or waiting area for any public transportation."

I have a medical condition
If you have a medical condition that is affected by wearing a mask you most likely wouldn’t be required to wear one. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore social distancing.

In California, medical conditions that exclude someone from wearing a mask include those with hearing impairment, mental health conditions or a disability that would prevent someone from wearing a mask.

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask and you are regularly in contact with others at your place of employment, there could be alternatives for you. Some states that have passed mandatory mask requirements allow employees to wear a face shield or similar item.

What about exercising outside?
If you're a jogger, runner, bicyclist or something similar, you would probably not have to wear one while working out alone or with a member of your household as long as you can maintain social distancing. That's how California has been handling things so far.

Will my kids have to wear a mask?
This really depends on the age of your children. In Delaware, masks are not recommended for anyone under 2 years old due to the risk of suffocation. Masks are recommended for children 2 to 4 years old and strongly recommended for children over 5. Children over 12 years old are required to wear one. Again, this is Delaware, but it's not far-fetched to see similar guidelines if masks become mandatory elsewhere.

If you have a child who is hesitant to wear a mask or scared of them, has tips on how to make it less scary. They include decorating cloth masks to make them more personalized and wearing them at home so your child can get used to having one on.

Parents, click here for resources on explaining the pandemic to children and why masks are important.

What if I refuse to wear a mask?
Unless you have a medical condition most health officials will tell you -- don’t be that person. But if you do end up refusing to wear one, be prepared to face a civil fine. And if you go inside a retail store and refuse to wear one you may be kicked out. If you refuse to leave, you could face a trespassing charge or other misdemeanor citation.

Fines and citations would all be handled at the local level so the punishment for not wearing a mask could vary city by city.

What’s the big deal with masks anyway? Do they even work?
Short answer? YES. A recent study published in the scientific journal "Physics of Fluids" shows that masks are very effective at preventing droplets from coughs, sneezes or normal breathing from passing through and onto a nearby person or object. You can read more about the study here.

Here's what is currently required across Ohio regarding masks
As it stands right now, statewide rules only require masks for employers, but businesses are allowed to require patrons to wear one when entering an establishment.

For manufacturing, distribution and construction:

  • Face coverings are required for employees and distributors, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/ regulations.

For consumer, retail and services:

  • Face coverings are required for all employees, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/regulations.

For general office environments:

  • Face coverings are required for all employees, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/regulations. A face covering is not required if an employee is working alone in an enclosed office space.

Akron City Councilwoman to propose making masks mandatory in city
Dayton city officials vote to make masks mandatory
All students, faculty and staff at Ohio State will be required to wear masks indoors

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The CDC and the Ohio Department of Health are now recommending the use of cloth face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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