After hearing public testimony from more than 20 citizens and several healthcare officials related to recent spread of coronavirus in our area and whether masks were an effective tool to reduce the transmission of the virus, Joplin City Council passed an ordinance enacting a face mask requirement for those in Joplin. The ordinance states that all people over the age of 6 should wear a face mask when inside public facilities or businesses that are open to the public, public transportation vehicles and outside when social distancing is not possible in groups of ten (10) or more persons who are not members of the same family or household.
“We heard from our health officials that they are seeing a growing increase in cases,” said Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley. “While numbers may be decreasing in other areas, we are continuing to have more.”
A 6-3 vote passed the bill that defines a face covering as a cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth or a full-face shield. It can be a sewn 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.
Joplin and area health officials have stated that wearing a face covering, in combination with physical distancing of at least six feet and frequent hand-washing, 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.
There are several exceptions noted in the ordinance related to health conditions, religious beliefs or some activities. All can be reviewed within the ordinance on the City’s website.
Public facilities and businesses that are open to the public will be required to post a sign at their entrances stating that masks must be worn in the facility. To help businesses with this, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce website has templates available to print. Businesses will have the right to refuse service for failure to comply.
Enforcement of this ordinance focuses on education in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and encourage compliance. Future non-compliance could result in a civil citation.
The ordinance goes into effect at 6 a.m. on July 11, 2020 and will expire at 11:59 p.m. August 17, 2020 unless extended or terminated prior to that date by the Mayor or City Council. Citizens can read the ordinance in its entirety here.