DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The new Dayton mask ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the City Commission on Wednesday, will take effect at 8 a.m. on Friday.
Mayor Nan Whaley held a press conference ahead of the vote, saying city officials are taking action in response to concerns raised by Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County and the Ohio Department of Health.
The ordinance will require people to cover their nose and mouth when inside public spaces or outside when social distancing is not possible. Locations include grocery stores, retail stores, libraries, bars and restaurants, and public transportation.
A violation could result in a civil penalty of $85. Enforcement will be conducted on a complaint basis by businesses that are concerned about a member of the public not complying with the requirement. Employees are asked to first encourage the member of the public to wear a mask or ask them to leave the premises. If they refuse, the business can call 937-333-2677 to report their concern. Dayton Police will follow up on the complaint.
“We are not asking members of the public to confront or report one another,” Mayor Whaley said. “If you witness a person not wearing a mask inside of a business, please report this to a manager so that they can respond.” She stressed that the intention is not for citizens to call the City individually, but rather for complaints to be reported by businesses.
She continued, “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. 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.’”
Children under 6, people with medical conditions, mental health conditions, as well as those with developmental disabilities that would be made difficult by wearing a mask are not required to do so.
The mask requirement would not apply to situations where it would be “impractical” such as swimming, or receiving medical/dental treatment, or facilities such as gyms where social distancing can be maintained.
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.”Governor Mike DeWine
The City of Dayton is working with RTA, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, and the United Way to distribute masks to business and community organizations that may need them for members of the public in the next few days. She says the city has distributed 45,000 masks so far in order to prepare for the ordinance and used money acquired from the CARES Act in order to make it happen.
“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.
She says wearing masks is a small sacrifice everyone can make to take care of one another and to keep businesses open as the pandemic continues.
Several businesses in the city, such as Luna Gifts & Botanicals on Wayne Avenue, already require customers to wear masks. “I would say for every one person that complains, we have about 20 that thank us for requiring it,” said Savannah Winfield, who works at the store.
Several others who spoke with 2 NEWS also expressed support for the city’s mask ordinance, with some hoping more people will now wear them.
“At the grocery store in the suburbs, I haven’t seen people wearing masks,” said Kaitlyn Yu, who lives in Dayton. “I always feel like we’re the odd ones out.”
Dr. Michael Dohn, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County Medical Director, reiterated a jarring statistic announced by Governor Mike DeWine this week. Montgomery County has gone from an increase in cases over the last month from an average of about 10 cases a day at the end of May to about 40 cases a day in the most recent week.
“As things have opened up, we’ve now gotten up to 43 cases per day, on average,” Dr. Dohn said. “That’s four times higher. When we were wearing masks, when we were maintaining distance, we didn’t have that.”
He says the increase is not entirely due to increased testing availability.
Dr. Dohn said there’s about 1,800 total cases, but more important than that is the number of people who are actually sick “today.” The area has surpassed its previous peak of 125 individuals who were sick on a given day. That number is now around 427, as of Tuesday.
“We here in Dayton and Montgomery County are having a little bit of trouble with this. It’s time for us to take some actions and for all of us to think about what we’re doing to try and protect our neighbors and ourselves,” he said.
When asked if a similar requirement could be possible for the entirety of Montgomery County, Public Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said, “We would encourage all jurisdictions within Montgomery County to follow suit similar to the City of Dayton’s ordinance, because we all have an obligation to protect each other.”