Medina officials opt for ordinance urging face coverings over mask mandate

Coronavirus

MEDINA, Ohio (WJW)– The question of whether wearing face masks should be mandatory sparked heated debate in Medina and a plan that would require face coverings failed to gain traction.

Concern about the spread of COVID-19 prompted three members of Medina City Council to propose the ordinance on July 8. It would have mandated wearing masks in public places and in outdoor spaces where residents could not stay more than 6 feet away from other people. Second-time violators would have faced a $35 fine.

“So the attempt was to keep people social distancing and in case they couldn’t social distance, that they wear a mask. Not for their protection, but for other people’s protection,” said Medina City Councilwoman Jessica Hazeltine.

The mask proposal generated a large number of comments on social media and many Medina County residents feel the wearing of a mask should be a personal decision.

“When it comes to stores, work, things like that, I think it should be optional. I know doing concrete, I definitely don’t want to be out there in 100-degree weather with a mask on,” said Ross Frame.

The sponsors of the mandatory mask legislation said it became clear last week that they did not have enough votes on council to win passage. On Friday, the mayor of Medina helped convince them to pull the ordinance.

“I was a little bit concerned with it appearing as a government overreach and part of that was because from day one, we’ve always followed the state health director’s guidelines and our local health director and our local health director was telling us at a level two, this is not required,” said Mayor Dennis Hanwell.

After giving up on the ordinance, council members decided to propose a resolution that would make the wearing of face covers highly recommended, but not mandatory. They point out that three surrounding counties, Cuyahoga, Lorain and Summit, are at the state’s red level alert for COVID cases, where masks are mandatory in public.

“A mask is one way to stop the spread of the virus and if you stop the spread of the virus, then businesses can begin to open, then the economy begins to pick up, then youngsters and teenagers can go to school,” said Councilman Bill Lamb.

Still to be determined is whether the cases in Medina County will reach a level where Ohio Gov. DeWine will make the wearing of face covers in public mandatory. Meanwhile, officials in Medina and surrounding communities are planning a public campaign to urge residents to wear face covers voluntarily.

“It’s our most effective means right now, prevention is our only cure at this point,” Hazeltine said.

Medina City Council is expected to vote Monday night on the resolution that urges resident to wear masks.

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