Stillwater passes ordinance requiring the wearing of masks in public places

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STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – The Stillwater City Council voted unanimously 5 to 0 Thursday night to pass an ordinance requiring the wearing of masks in public places.

The ordinance will require businesses to post signage saying that there is an ordinance requiring them to wear a mask inside. The business can deny someone entry if they don’t want them inside without wearing a mask. However, they don’t have to deny people entry.

People outside are also required to wear masks if they are in places that they can’t maintain social distancing.

“[This is] in response to [the] continuing rise of cases in the area in the state, and we’re hoping that we’ll get more people wearing masks and hopefully slow down the spread of the disease,” Mayor Will Joyce told KFOR after the meeting.

There are also exceptions. Some of those include certain medical conditions and children under the age of five not having to wear a mask. There are no specific individual fines laid out in the ordinance as punishment for not wearing the mask. However, if a business asks you to leave for not wearing a mask and you don’t, you can be reported for trespassing.

The ordinance goes into effect Saturday, July 11 and will last until Nov. 30. Joyce said the design is to make it last until the end of the fall school semester.

“It’s a slippery slope once you start taking away different rights,” said Brice Chaffin, a Stillwater resident against the ordinance.

“I am very supportive of the mask ordinance,” said John Killan, a Stillwater resident. “If it is able to keep it from spreading even to five more people, [then] let’s do it, let’s stand up for mankind.”

Dozens of residents were in attendance, and several spoke at the podium and even via a Zoom call to voice their opinions.

Everyone inside of the City Council meeting was required to wear a mask. It got to a point where one man spoke at the podium wearing his mask, took it off and sat back down when he was done talking. Mayor Joyce told him he had to put his mask on or leave the building. After refusing for a short time, police entered the room and the man was escorted out peacefully and not in handcuffs.

A lot of residents said they weren’t too happy about the passing of the ordinance.

“Social distancing and washing your hands is all you need to do,” said Sadie Harrison, a Stillwater resident and business owner. “All of this is just a control issue, and, folks, we’re going down the wrong road. This just the beginning.”

Others said they feel like the mask mandate will make a difference.

“I personally feel like our commissioners have done a fantastic job in leading in this,” Killan said.

“I think it’ll be a great win for the City of Stillwater,” Joyce said.

The ordinance is set to go into effect as soon as it is published by the local Stillwater newspaper Saturday morning.

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