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Dayton Commissioners Unanimously Pass New Face Mask Ordinance

(From left to right): Dayton city commissioners Darryl Fairchild, Jeff Mims, Mayor Nan Whaley, commissioners Matt Joseph and Christopher Shaw sit at their podiums to conduct their weekly city commission meeting Wednesday night. That night, the commission voted to pass an ordinance that would require face coverings in indoor, public spaces.
Dayton, Ohio - City Government
Dayton City Commissioners and Mayor Nan Whaley address agenda items during their weekly commission meeting Wednesday night. That night, the commission ion voted to pass an ordinance that would require face coverings in indoor, public spaces.

On Wednesday, the city of Dayton commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance making face masks mandatory in indoor, public spaces.

The mandate applies to all residents above the age of five, regardless of their vaccination status.

On July 27, the CDC updated their health guidelines to encourage vaccinated people to wear masks in indoor spaces. On Sept. 9, the Montgomery County Public Health Department recommended that local cities do the same. They say COVID-19 cases in the country are reaching peaks not seen since January.

According to the public health department, there were about 400 cases in Montgomery County last week, a major increase from two months ago, when that number was at 52. Dayton is one of few cities in the Miami Valley to institute a mask mandate, along with Yellow Springs.

During public comment, two residents spoke out against the mandate, saying the government should not have that big of a role in citizens’ lives. Candidate for Dayton Mayor Rennes Bowers said he trusts his constituents to make well-informed decisions regarding their own health.

“Liberals believe the government knows what is best,” Bowers said. “I don't believe the government is the answer to every human problem. The CDC has given contradictory guidance over this time and time again.”

However, all the commissioners and Mayor Nan Whaley urged residents on the importance of following CDC guidelines, like social distancing and getting vaccinated. Commissioner Christopher Shaw said he knew someone who recently passed away from COVID-19. He was not vaccinated.

“He was one of those that just didn't feel like it was for him, now he's in a grave,” And I would also just encourage everyone to continue to stay masked up and get vaccinated. It's critically important that it will help us open up the city.”

According to a press release from the city, there will be certain exemptions to the rule, such as exercising, eating and drinking. Residents with certain disabilities, medical and mental health conditions can also be exempt from wearing a mask.

Aside from those exceptions, anyone not wearing a face mask may be subject to an $85 fine. Open-air spaces like the Levitt Pavilion are exempt from this rule.

Mawa Iqbal is a reporter for WYSO. Before coming to WYSO, she interned at Kansas City PBS's digital magazine, Flatland. There, her reporting focused on higher education and immigrant communities in the Kansas City area. She studied radio journalism at Mizzou, where she also worked for their local NPR-affiliate station as a reporter.