Dayton City Commissioners approve indoor mask mandate; Police to enforce, fines possible

DAYTON — The City of Dayton Commission voted to approve an ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

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“Case levels in Montgomery County are reaching peaks not seen since January. While we know that vaccinations are incredibly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, children under twelve are still unable to receive the vaccine,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

“I appreciate my colleagues on the Commission being willing to take this step to protect those unable to be vaccinated, to protect hospital capacity, and to keep businesses open even as we see new spikes in COVID-19 cases.”

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The city says the ordinance will require face coverings for anyone six years of age or older in indoor spaces that are open to the public. The new ordinance allows exemptions similar to Dayton’s previous mask requirement, including while eating or drinking or while exercising, according to the release.

People with medical conditions, mental health conditions, or developmental disabilities that restrict or limit their ability to wear a mask are also not required to wear a face covering. Office buildings generally not open to the public are also not included in the new mandate.

“No one likes wearing masks, myself included. But this is a necessary step to keep people in Dayton safe,” Whaley continued. “The last thing any of us want is a return to shutdowns, and masks in public spaces is another way to prevent that.”

Enforcement will be conducted on a complaint basis by business owners or employees who are concerned about a member of the public not complying with the mask requirement while inside their location, according to a release from the city.

Dayton police will be in charge of enforcement and violators could face a fine up to $85.

Wednesday’s city commissioners meeting brought people from both sides of the issue voicing their opinions ahead of the commissioners’ vote.

“I really think we shouldn’t make nobody do nothing they don’t want to do. I think we all have rights,” a man said during public comments.

“You do not have the freedom to pass on deadly viruses,” another said.

“I’m not opposed to masks. I’m not opposed to vaccinations. I am opposed to mandates,” a third said.

Whaley defended her decision during the meeting saying the city acts based on the recommendations from Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County. Last week, PHDMC urged individual governments in the county to consider issuing a mask mandate, saying the recently passed Senate Bill 22 limits what Gov. Mike DeWine and individual health departments can do.

“What the City of Dayton is doing is something that we’re in favor of. We’re also in favor of other businesses and other municipalities doing the same thing, even if your city doesn’t have a masking ordinance persay, if you’re an individual business owner or facility owner, you can also require those masks independently,” Dan Suffoletto. Public Information Manager for PHDMC told News Center 7 Wednesday.

Despite the debate on the issue of mandatory masks, they are becoming more common after many spent the summer without them. On Tuesday DeWine said 54 percent of Ohio students are now under a school mask order.

When asked why he does not just issue a statewide order, DeWine cited Senate Bill 22 and the state legislature’s ability to repeal any mandate.

“The legislature’s made it clear to me they will not hesitate – and they will – repeal a mandate I put on,” DeWine said.

Whaley, who’s running against DeWine for governor in 2022 responded, ”That’s cheap frankly let the legislature do that – it’s a strong statement if the governor makes a mandate.”