CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati’s new mask ordinance goes into effect beginning Thursday, meaning masks will soon be required in all places of business within the city limits.
When City Council debated the ordinance last week, a major sticking point was its enforcement mechanism. Would Cincinnati police be called to businesses for reports of someone not donning a mask?
In the end, council decided on the city’s Health Department to enforce the ordinance on the premise that compliance should be encouraged more than noncompliance should be punished.
Environmental Health Director Antonio Young said the same Tuesday speaking with FOX19 NOW.
“The goal of this is education, and to be able to have that engagement with individuals and have some type of exchange so they understand why this stuff is important,” Young said.
Among other measures, the ordinance will require signs on the entrances of businesses. Inside, employees who interact with the public must wear a mask — and of course patrons must do the same.
Health officials say they will respond to calls with donated masks and ask people to put them on to avoid a $25 fine.
Exemptions exits for children under 6, those in private offices, those eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant, those with a medical or mental health condition and those who are not able to remove a facial covering without assistance.
Young says the Health Department will enforce the ordinance on the basis of citizen complaints.
“We then go out to the business, and the first thing we do is engage with the manager,” he explained. “Then we engage the individual who may not have that mask. Nine times out of 10, they will accept it.”
The ordinance says businesses may refuse customers if they do not wear a mask.
“I think we will receive a bunch of calls, especially initially,” Young estimated. “That has been the case with each of the governor’s orders, and I think that will be the case with this as well.”