Oklahoma City Council approves mandatory mask ordinance

Maureen Haynes, of Tulsa, works on a mask at her home in Tulsa on Friday, July 10, 2020. Haynes, a recent graduate of the University of Tulsa's biology program, has made over 400 masks after researching which materials and designs were the best for catching particles. (Ian Maule/Tulsa World via AP)

From a practical standpoint, the Tulsa mask ordinance is ineffectual because there's no penalty for not wearing a mask in situations where it's required.

Despite the fact that Mayor G.T. Bynum said that a business which "is clearly a public health nuisance during this pandemic … is subject to being declared a public health nuisance and being shut down," the Tulsa Health Department is deflecting mask complaints and referring them to the Tulsa Police Department.

And there's a problem with that too. 

Unless a business owner calls the police to request the removal of a person for trespassing, TPD will not respond to a location where a customer is refusing to wear a mask and won't leave the premises.

Most small business owners aren't going to complain to police because they don't want to lose those customers. And, who can blame them, considering the financial hit those businesses took during the shutdown?

This means that at places like Titan Sports in Tulsa, which has mask-requirement signs at all entrances and won't allow any maskless adults to enter the building, people will openly defy the ordinance once inside the facility.

For every one person who wears a mask, probably 10 do not. The danger of spreading COVID-19 at large venues like this can't be overstated.

If Tulsa officials allow the flaunting of the mask ordinance at large venues to continue, it will have accomplished nothing.

Letters to the editor are encouraged. Send letters to letters@tulsaworld.com.

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