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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As health officials continue to work to get as many people vaccinated against COVID-19 as possible, city leaders in Oklahoma City have decided to extend the city’s mask ordinance.

On July 17, the Oklahoma City Council approved a mandatory mask ordinance for indoor public places within the city limits.

Under the ordinance, most citizens in Oklahoma City are required to wear a mask while inside public buildings, with a few exceptions.

The ordinance went into effect immediately and was originally set to last until Sept. 8, but the council voted to extend the ordinance several times.

Face masks
Via Unsplash

For months, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt has stressed the importance of wearing a mask in public.

Once the ordinance went into effect, Holt said that the ordinance was causing the city’s COVID-19 cases to drop.

As attention turns to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, officials say you still need to take precautions against the virus until more of the population has been inoculated.

On Tuesday, the city council voted to extend the ordinance until at least April 30.

“Our predicted model shows if the mask ordinance stays in place and residents continue social distancing and washing their hands, we could achieve herd immunity by June,” said Phil Maytubby, Chief Operating Officer for the Okahoman City-County Health Department. “Scientific data shows mask wearing is highly effective.”

According to Maytubby, hospitalizations and deaths have dramatically dropped for people over age 65 since vaccinations began in Oklahoma County.

So far, officials estimate that 24 percent of Oklahoma County residents have been vaccinated. However, the city’s COVID-19 testing rate has dropped to 5.5 percent.

Exceptions to face covering requirements are:

  • Children age 10 and under, unless required by a school or daycare.
  • People working in an office who don’t have face-to-face interactions with the public.
  • Patrons of restaurants, bars and similar establishments while eating or drinking.
  • People in settings where it isn’t practical or feasible to wear a face covering, like receiving dental services, swimming or playing at a sprayground.
  • People engaged in sports (including for recreation).
  • People engaged in cardio exercises. But people should make reasonable efforts to observe social distancing between groups of people from different households.
  • People inside any federal, state or county building or facility.
  • People inside a public or private school building or facility, unless required by the school.
  • People at a religious service or ceremony where social distancing is observed between groups of people from different households.
  • People with a developmental disability.
  • People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and people who are communicating with someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing.