Joplin City Council PASSES mask mandate

Local News

The Joplin City Council called a special meeting for Thursday, November 19 to discuss passing an ordinance for a mask mandate on an emergency basis. The ordinance passed with a vote of six in favor and three against.

The mask mandate is effective immediately and will last until February 28, 2021.

Area healthcare representatives spoke on behalf of passing the mask ordinance. These representatives spoke, saying how the mask mandate would benefit the community. One of whom was Ryan Talken, director of the Joplin Health Department, who said he recommends three strategies: wearing face masks, hand-washing, and social distancing. Talken advised that regarding Thanksgiving he hopes the public stays “vigilant” and follows the three strategies. Following these speakers were 17 individuals from the public who spoke out on both sides of the ordinance.

The Joplin City Council proceeded with a vote on the mask ordinance after a movement and a second. The ordinance passed with a vote of six in favor and three against. The city will stay on phase two, step four.

The ordinance, no. 2020-011, states that it requires “persons to wear a face covering that covers the nostrils and mouth to help restrict the spread of the COVID-19 virus; creating exemptions; establishing enforcement; and containing an emergency clause.” 

This ordinance states it “should become effective without delay because widespread use of a face mask is necessary to prevent the more rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus.” 

“Face covering” is defined as a cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth or a full-face shield. It can be a surgical mask or cloth mask secured with ties or straps around the head or behind the ears; multiple layers of fabric tied around the head; made from a variety of materials, such as fleece, cotton, or linen; or factory-made or made from household items.” 

Ordinance No. 2020-011

The ordinance requires that persons in the City of Joplin wear face coverings “in certain public settings.” These settings include public businesses, public transportation, and outside when social distancing is not permitted. There are few exceptions that fall under this ordinance. These include: those who according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines do not have to wear a facial covering due to medical or mental health condition, a developmental disability, or are otherwise covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act; children under six years of age; those whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a facial covering; bar or restaurant patrons while they are dining or drinking; when participating in group or team sports, or exercise or other physical activity where it is not feasible to wear a mask or social distance; while in settings where it is not practical to wear a mask, including when obtaining goods or services, such as dental or medical treatments. 

Schools within the City of Joplin are expected to work with the City Health Department to “implement safety protocols,” under this ordinance. The ordinance states that its first goal of enforcement is to “focus first on educating and working to promote the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19.” 

The ordinance includes that violations of this order is punishable of a fine from $0 to 50, at a court’s discretion.  

The ordinance further states that this is due to the mayor’s declaration of civil emergency on March 18, 2020 in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and the “threat” it poses on the community. Additionally, because the coronavirus “has been accelerating in the City of Joplin and in Jasper and Newton Counties.” 

One factor that led to this ordinance was due to a written letter from area health organizations urging Joplin and other local governing officials to enact a mask mandate “for the explicit purpose of reducing the spread of COVID-19.” This, along with that “one key transmission method for the COVID-19 virus is through respiratory droplets that people expel when they breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze,” influenced this ordinance’s creation. 

This ordinance states that epidemiologists have pushed for a “widespread” usage of face masks, as it is “necessary to prevent the more rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus,” especially when individuals gather in groups. 

In accordance with United States CDC recommendations, this ordinance suggests those in public cover their nose and mouths so as to “prevent inadvertently spreading COVID-19.” The ordinance states that the City of Joplin finds that by combining the usage of face masks, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing, it “may reduce the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus when in public and engaged in necessary activities by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets.” 

Joplin’s previous mask mandate was put in place July 11, 2020, expiring August 17, 2020. 

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