Lakewood expected to vote on proposed mask mandate, limiting occupancy in businesses

Coronavirus
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LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WJW) — Lakewood city council is expected to vote on an ordinance as soon as next week that would mandate masks and a 50 percent occupancy limit in retail and service industry businesses.

“I know this is going to be tough for some restaurants but at the end of the day if you’re doing social distancing right then they’re already at 50 percent occupancy,” said Lakewood Mayor Meghan George.

Penalties are still being established but Mayor George says those in violation could face a 50 dollar fine.

Outside the doors of the nearby Southern Cafe, several people waited in line for their order, the chef and owner Tony Fortner says business has suffered since the start of the pandemic. However he made the decision not to reopen indoor dining even after the governor gave the okay. 

“As a small mom and pop independent restaurant the margins are very, very tight,” said Fortner. “We have a son that has pre-existing conditions… we’ll get back to where we were but in the short term the safety and health and well being of me, you, our families is paramount. Nothing trumps that.”

The mayor says the legislation is needed in addition to the Ohio Department of Health order mandating masks in Cuyahoga County to help eliminate any confusion about where masks are required.

“A 50 percent occupancy maximum so that when we do get those calls our fire department or police department can go in and enforce those occupancies,” said the mayor.

Some business owners support the change regarding masks calling it long overdue.

“That one or two persons that get very irate and upset with everything that’s going on it’s a minority,” said Tea Lab owner Carlos Ramos.

“The science is very clear that this is a step we can take to protect our local businesses their employees and our residents,” said council member Sarah Kepple.

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