Dayton, Ohio – The City of Dayton is now requiring residents to wear masks while in public spaces and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible.
Dayton City Commission voted unanimously to pass a mandatory mask ordinance, which goes into effect Friday at 8 a.m.
Those who do not follow the new rule could face a civil penalty of up to $85. Enforcement will be conducted on a complaint basis. Employees are encouraged to first ask the person to wear a mask or leave the establishment.
“We are not asking members of the public to confront or report one another,” Mayor Nan Whaley said during an interview. “If you witness a person not wearing a mask inside of a business, please report this to a manager so that they can respond.”
Businesses are then asked to report the complaints to the city hotline.
“What we’re trying to do is really raise culture here and say, ‘Hey, this is what you have to do in Dayton to be a good citizen,” she said. “You need to stop at stop lights, you need to wear shoes on your feet when you go into the grocery store, you need to wear shirts, and you need to wear a mask when you’re in public.’”
There are exceptions to wearing masks. For example, if someone is under the age of six years old, has a medical condition or a developmental disability.
The move comes as ‘coronavirus’ cases continue to ‘spike’ across the state, including here in Northeast Ohio.
“It’s very simple, the two things that we know to do are social distancing and wearing masks, it’s not either/or,” said Dr. James Simon, a Cleveland Clinic physician.
Dr. Simon says coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Northeast Ohio, just like many other parts of the state.
“There is a recent increase in the younger population, so 20 to 34 year olds are now the most common age group that is now being diagnosed and we have seen an increase in diagnoses of the 19 and under age group as well,” said Dr. Simon.
He says when Ohio re-opened after the near-total shutdown this spring, the number of coronavirus cases not only stabilized, but went down…for about a month.
“A significant portion of the public, enough, have started to disregard the rules altogether,” said Dr. Simon.
He says everyone must once again take this health crises seriously by wearing masks and social distancing in public to prevent many more people from getting sick or worse.
“This is the same virus we had in February and March, it is no different, it is just as deadly,” said Dr. Simon.
Governor Mike DeWine issued a statement in support of the ordinance:
“I support Mayor Whaley’s and Dayton’s decision to require the use of masks in public places. It’s an appropriate and welcome response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in their area. Masks are recommended by the CDC and medical professionals to help protect other people. Wearing a mask will allow us to help keep businesses open and help prevent further spikes. I encourage other communities to consider following Dayton’s lead.”
The City of Dayton is working with local organizations to distribute masks to businesses and community groups that may need them over the next few days.
“I know, including myself, that no one is excited about wearing a mask. I know that wearing a mask is uncomfortable. I know that unfortunately, wearing a mask has become a political flashpoint, but I also know that masks save lives,” said Mayor Whaley.
A spokesperson for the City of Cleveland tells Dayton Daily Magazine they are waiting to hear what Governor DeWine says in his briefing, before discussing any changes in ordinances. We also reached out to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health but did not receive a response.