Shawnee residents react to mask mandate

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SHAWNEE, Okla. (KFOR) – A mask mandate for indoor public places in Shawnee will take effect Monday.

The city council voted unanimously to pass the mandate. Councilmembers say it’s a good middle ground of taking action while not shutting down again.

“I do not want to see businesses close down again. We cannot do that,” Ben Salter, Ward 6 Commissioner, said.
 
Some councilmembers and citizens share similar thoughts – that masks can be annoying, but they’re necessary.
 
“I don’t like these silly things, I wish we could throw them down and go on, but I know that sometimes I have to do what’s best for me and my family and people I love, whether I like it or not,” Travis Flood, Ward 3 Commissioner, said.
 
“I think they’re hot, they’re a nuisance,” Kathryn Gustafson, a Shawnee resident, said. “It is controlling, but I try to understand why the we have it, so people stay safe.” 
 
“I don’t like wearing mine because I have asthma and it’s hard to breathe, but I understand it’s mandatory,” Jordan McCormick, another Shawnee resident, said.
 
Other residents say they think the new rule is best for everyone.
 
“I think I trust the process. I have many children, many grandchildren, and we need to do something to save our people,” Sana Powers said.

“The sooner that everyone gets on board with it the faster the pandemic will be over, everything can open back up, and we can all go back to normal life,” Angela Cason said.

However, not everyone in the community is happy with the mandate. Hundreds have signed a petition calling for it to be repealed. The petition reads in part:
 
“Shawnee Residents and Businesses should have a choice in wearing a mask. No citizen should be forced to obey any mandate with stipulations of citations and fines for our right as Americans to choose! We, the people, have rights and will stand our ground to repeal the mandate of mask in Shawnee.”

There are several exceptions:

  • Persons under 11 unless required by a school or day care
  • Professional office spaces where there is no face-to-face interactions with public
  • While eating and drinking in restaurants
  • Where not practical or feasible to wear a face covering. (Dental services, medical)
  • When engaged in a sporting activity
  • Performing cardio, but effort should be made to socially distance
  • Attending any indoor religious service or ceremony as long as social distancing is practiced
  • In public or private school building or other facility unless required by school to wear covering
  • Persons with developmental, mental, and/or medical disability, including persons who are deaf and hard of hearing

As for penalties, before it’s considered an offense, officers will offer the person a mask or ask them to leave the indoor place. There will be no citation if a person takes one of those options. The first and second offenses are a $9 fine. Any offense after that will have a maximum penalty of $100.

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