COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The masks are coming back on in Columbus.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced Wednesday that he is issuing an executive order requiring facemasks to be worn in indoor public spaces because of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“The strain has reached a breaking point,” Ginther said.
Ginther said there are not enough healthcare workers to handle the influx of new cases and that further steps are needed. He said he would work City Council to codify the order next week. Ginther said that having separate orders from him and City Council are in anticipation of a legal challenge.
A state law passed in March over a veto from Gov. Mike DeWine limits orders from local health departments to no longer than 30 days. An order can be extended only if the state General Assembly votes in favor of it.
Dr. Mysheika Roberts, commissioner of Columbus Public Health, said enforcement would follow the pattern of an earlier mask order and be based on complaints. A first offense would draw a warning, a second offense a $500 fine and a third offense a $1,000 fine.
“Wear a mask whether you’re vaccinated or not,” Roberts said. “We have to do everything we can as a community to band together to keep our businesses open, to keep our kids in school,” she said.
In early August, an indoor mask advisory was put in place for Columbus and Franklin County. It recommended everyone to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.
An earlier mask order was in place for about 11 months starting in July 2020, but it was allowed to expire around the same time that a state mask order ended in early June.
Ginther made the announcement at a news conference where he and Roberts were joined by several local health leaders:
- Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, OhioHealth
- Dr. Nicholas Kreatsoulas, Mount Carmel Health System
- Dr. Rustin Morse, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
- Dr. Andrew Thomas, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center