Press Conference (copy)

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum puts on his mask after speaking during a news conference on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Tulsans would be required to wear face coverings over their mouths and noses inside businesses, other indoor spaces open to the public and in outdoor public spaces where proper social distancing is not possible, according to a draft city ordinance obtained by the Tulsa World.

The ordinance, which includes multiple exceptions, is subject to change based on recommendations from the Tulsa Health Department.

Among the details yet to be finalized is a minimum age requirement.

The proposed exceptions include any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering; any person consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink; any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, though wearing a mask is strongly encouraged; and any person in a swimming pool, lake or similar body of water.

First-time violators of the ordinance would receive a verbal or written notice. A person cited for violating the ordinance a second time would be issued a ticket for a misdemeanor and, if convicted, would be subject to a fine of no more than $100, excluding court costs.

The proposed ordinance would expire when Mayor G.T. Bynum’s latest emergency order expires, or when Gov. Kevin Stitt’s emergency declaration expires, whichever comes first.

Bynum announced Friday that he would move forward with implementing a mask ordinance after Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart recommended he do so to combat the surge of COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County.

“This is necessary to slow the current rate of viral spread that will endanger our health care system’s ability to treat those in need if it is not addressed,” Bynum said in a Facebook post.

The City Council is expected to consider the ordinance Wednesday.

The county’s 7-day rolling average for new COVID-19 infections on Monday reached a new high of 166.

The county’s rolling average, a metric used to prevent a single day or data point from skewing data, previously peaked at 148 twice, in late June and early July.

The state’s 7-day rolling average reached a new high Monday of 626.

The requirement for wearing a mask outdoors pertains only to public spaces where it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.

Other proposed exceptions to the mask ordinance are:

• Any person driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver.

• Any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care or dental service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal.

• Any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.

• Any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.

• Any person giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience.

• Any person performing work in which face coverings present or exacerbates a hazard.

If approved by the City Council, Tulsa would join Stillwater and Norman as Oklahoma municipalities that have implemented mask ordinances.

Oklahoma City’s City Council is expected to discuss a possible mask ordinance with its Health Department this week.

The governor has said he has no intention of implementing a statewide mask requirement.

Video: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister urges mask-wearing for the sake of school

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Kevin Canfield



Twitter: @aWorldofKC

Staff Writer

Kevin Canfield has covered local government in Tulsa for nearly two decades. He also has reported on downtown development, zoning and community planning.

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