After hearing from hundreds of speakers and reading tens of thousands of written and transcribed comments since first passing an ordinance in July requiring face coverings in public spaces, Springfield City Council at its Oct. 5 meeting passed a new ordinance to extend the requirement through Jan. 9, 2021.
The new ordinance also raises the capacity of special events on public property from 25% to 50% of the occupancy limitation of the space, based on square footage of the area. All providers of special events must comply with the face covering requirements of the ordinance, which comprises Phase 3B of the City’s Road to Recovery Plan.
At press time, Springfield-Greene County has had more than 7,500 cases of the disease and 89 deaths.
At the recommendation of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and with the full support of our health care partners in the region, City Council voted to extend the face covering requirement in the city limits of Springfield for another 90 days,” said Mayor Ken McClure. “We must continue to do everything we can to protect ourselves and each other from this disease. We hope that the new year will bring us good news in terms of a vaccine rollout and the return of life as we knew it before COVID-19.”
Prevention includes not only wearing a face covering while in public spaces, but maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and frequent hand washing.
Under the ordinance, everyone over the age of 11 is required to wear a face covering when in public spaces in the city limits of Springfield. Exemptions are made for those with health or breathing conditions that prohibits wearing a face covering, who are hearing impaired and people communicating with individuals who are hearing impaired.
Other exemptions include:
- While consuming food and drink
- While at a swimming pool
- While obtaining a service involving the face or nose for which the temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service
- While playing a sport, exercising or using exercising equipment while exerting themselves
- While working in settings which might increase the risk of heat-related illnesses
- While outdoors and maintaining a 6-foot distance from others or while outdoors and are closer than 6 feet to solely members of their own household
- While speaking, addressing an audience or performing and are able to maintain a 6-foot distance from others
- While serving as a member of a wedding party during the wedding ceremony and/or taking wedding photos.
“The Springfield-Greene County Health Department takes an evidence-based approach to protect and promote the health of our community. Evidence continues to underline the effectiveness of wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and as such, is the recommendation of this department,” said Clay Goddard, director of Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
Employers can order face masks through any supplier. One option is the Missouri PPE market place located on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website.
It is recommended that businesses place signs on their entrances to notify customers/visitors of the mask requirement. Springfield-Greene County Health Department has created signs that all businesses can print and place on their doors, or businesses can create their own signage. A business toolkit is available at health.springfieldmo.gov/business.
Education is the first step in enforcement. The Springfield Police Department and Health Department work to educate any violators of the ordinance before citations are issued. To date, no citations have been issued.
Failure to comply with the ordinance can result in a $100 fine for individuals, businesses, governments or non-profit entities. Each individual within or working for the entity is considered a separate violation. Violations can be reported by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 417-864-1010. If a customer at a business refuses to wear a face covering and is causing immediate danger to the business’s staff, call 911.
Who is most at risk:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified certain populations at greater risk for severe health outcomes from COVID-19: older adults and individuals with conditions that affect the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system, including but not limited to cancer, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, obesity, serious heart conditions and diabetes.
Other populations that may be at higher risk for severe symptoms include people who smoke, have asthma, are pregnant or have high blood pressure.
“COVID-19 is taking from us loved ones who had years ahead of them. Having an underlying health condition should not be interpreted as an individual being sick, feeble or infirm,” Goddard said. “Many of us live robust lives every day with the underlying health conditions that can make us more at risk to severe complications from this disease. We owe it to each other to faithfully practice watching our distance, wearing our masks and washing our hands.”
For questions about the ordinance, please call 417-874-1211 option 3 or visit springfieldmo.gov/coronavirusresponse.