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Confusion regarding Mayor Jackson's mask order continues

Posted at 7:30 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 19:49:05-04

CLEVELAND — Late Friday night Mayor Frank Jackson declared a mandatory mask order for the City of Cleveland.

The order laid out six key points that include rules for businesses and public gatherings, but some Cleveland residents feel the order leaves too much room for interpretation.

Is a mask required when walking down the street or exercising outdoors?

The City of Cleveland denied News 5’s request Monday to speak with them for more clarification on the mask order.

The vague order states masks are mandatory for all individuals out in public, including restaurants and other businesses.

“It’s just kind of ridiculous to me,” said Shyla Cloud. “I’m not sure how you can to a bar or a restaurant and enjoy your time with your family wearing a mask.”

Cleveland City Council members are also seemingly on a different page when it comes to what is and isn’t permitted under the order.

“I think the important part of the mandate is being able to have enough description of what is required and what’s not required so people have a better understanding so there’s not this vagueness,” Ward 12 Councilman Tony Brancatelli said.

When asked via teleconference Friday, the mayor stated the order does not leave room for exceptions - whether that may be children or those with medical conditions.

However, Brancatelli said otherwise and stated “young children” are exempt from the mask mandate.

“People who have breathing disorders or reasons that they can’t wear a mask are certainly exempt from it,” Brancatelli said. “So it’s a reasonable man’s theory.”

Per the order, all bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues will be required to reduce their maximum capacity to 50% of typical capacity and must follow social distancing guidelines set by state health officials.

Businesses who fail to comply with the order and receive two violations of being overcapacity will be shut down, according to the mayor’s order.

If an employee or customer of a business test positive, the establishment must be sanitized to the standards of the Cleveland Health Department. If they fail to do so, they will be shut down, according to the mandate.

Jackson said health officials will be required to enforce the mandate, but citations cannot be issued until legislation passes at next week’s council meeting.

If the city’s legislation passes, customers who refuse to wear a mask inside a business will be fined $25.

Until then, Brancatelli said the mandate will rely heavily on common sense.

“The issue is there’s no penalty or fine with it,” Brancatelli said. “So the idea right now is having a mandate without a penalty, it’s more of a suggestion.”

Will Blue said the requirements included in the mayor’s mandate need to be spelled out more clearly because the current rules leave too much room for interpretation.

“As far as fining, that’s just another way to make some money off of the people that, we’re already going through a pandemic as well, so we don’t need to kick out more funds as it is,” Blue said.

The order in Cleveland will be in effect until July 31 at 11:59 p.m.

A similar order may extend to the rest of Cuyahoga County soon.

A spokesperson confirmed to News 5 Monday that Cuyahoga County is working on a draft of a mask mandate that will be introduced this week.

Cuyahoga County has been flagged in four key indicators that determine the COVID-19 emergency level, including new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, a high proportion of sustained increase in emergency room visits, and sustained increase in outpatient visits.