TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa City Council unanimously approved a mask mandate for ages 10 and up on Wednesday, according to the City of Tulsa.
The ordinance expires by Jan. 31, 2021, or when the mayor's emergency orders expire, officials said. The council could also repeal, modify or approve a new ordinance altogether.
The amendment requires Mayor Bynum’s signature before it goes into effect. Bynum is expected to sign the ordinance on Thursday.
“I am thankful for the City Council’s broad support in approving this important amendment to our mask ordinance,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “Our local health care leaders made clear how important it was for more children to be wearing masks, especially as they return to classrooms. This amendment is critical in a time when we need to continue to ensure the integrity of our local health care system.”
Masks are required for all individuals 10 years old and older in Tulsa who will be in public places, including:
- grocery stores
- retail stores
- public areas where social distancing cannot be followed
Some exceptions to the ordinance include athletic team activities where wearing a face mask becomes impractical, officials said. Everything else from the existing mask ordinance that the City Council passed in July remains the same.
During a recent city council meeting, Dr. Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa Health Department, said COVID-19 cases in children ages 0-17 increased. Dr. Dart said it's due to outbreaks in schools across Tulsa County. It's why he asked councilors to lower the age of the mask mandate to age 10.
“I am grateful for the City Council’s decision today to lower the age on the City of Tulsa mask mandate,” Dart said. “Our local health data indicate that the fastest rate of growth for COVID-19 cases is currently occurring among children in the 5-17 age group. Masks are a proven step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with everyday preventative actions and social distancing in public settings.”
This new ordinance won’t bring a big change for Eric Frazier’s family.
“Throughout the whole pandemic and stuff, we made our kids wear masks to restaurants and stuff," Frazier said.
Xiniqua Fritz said, while she approves of masks, she thinks the new ordinance age is too young.
“I could see 12, 13, but 10, that’s elementary age," she said. "Those kids are still fast-paced, moving, all the way into stuff. So, masks, just, I feel like it’s a little complicated.”
Fritz’s son is only nine, but many places already require him to wear a mask, which is difficult with his asthma and prevents them from going out much.
“We just left the library and they had to have masks on," Fritz said. "And I was just like, it’s just no point because they want to be free, they want to run, they want to go do stuff. And they can’t because it’s like a hindrance.”
Frazier said his family doesn’t get out much either and has struggled through the pandemic. He said we all have to help each other.
"We all gotta do it together, too," Frazier said. "We can’t do it just single, individually. We all gotta come together and do what we need to do to get through this.”
The Health Care Association Coalition wrote a letter to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and the city council members in support of the mask mandate being extended for kids 10 and up.
Our respective groups represent thousands of state health care providers who are on the front lines in the battle against this invisible and deadly virus. Our members have seen firsthand the consequences of this disease, and now we are asking for your support to expand Tulsa’s current face mask mandate to be applicable to all those over 10 years old.
For more information about masks in Tulsa, click here.
For more information about COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County, click here.
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