At last night’s Special Council Meeting, the Joplin City Council passed an ordinance enacting a face mask requirement for those in Joplin. The ordinance states that all people over the age of 6 should wear a face covering when inside public facilities or businesses that are open to the public, public transportation vehicles and outside when social distancing is not possible in groups including people who are not members of the same family or household. The full ordinance can be viewed at the City’s website at https://www.joplinmo.org/1089/Joplin-Face-Covering-Ordinance .
Earlier this week, the City of Joplin recently received a letter from area healthcare providers urging elected government and municipal officers in Joplin, Webb City, Carl Junction, Carthage, Neosho and the County Commissions of Jasper and Newton Counties to enact a mask mandate to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. During the meeting these healthcare leaders spoke to the Council about the significant need of passing this ordinance to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Following their statements, individuals who had signed up to speak on the issue talked to the elected officials giving their personal opinions of support or disagreement of a mask ordinance. At the close of public comment, the Council voted 6 to 3 in support of the ordinance. Council members Phil Stinnett, Gary Shaw and Doug Lawson cast the dissenting votes.
Mayor Ryan Stanley recognized this as an opportunity to assist with the capacity issues that our healthcare providers noted. “We hope that this ordinance serves to make a difference in the health of our community,” he said. “As we go into the holidays, we want people to protect themselves and others. Masks are just part of the recommendations. We still need to practice social distancing and washing our hands frequently. We should each be responsible to do our part to help decrease the transmission of COVID-19 among our citizens throughout this area.”
The ordinance is effective immediately and will expire at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 28, 2021 unless extended or terminated prior to that date by the Mayor or City Council. Citizens can read the ordinance in its entirety here. This ordinance is similar to a mask ordinance enacted in July through mid-August of this year.
The ordinance defines a face covering as a cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth or a full-face shield. The face covering can be a sewn mask secured with ties or straps around the head or behind the ears; multiple layers of fabric tied around the head; made from a variety of materials, such as fleece, cotton, or linen; or factory-made or made from household items.
There are several exceptions noted in the ordinance related to health conditions, religious beliefs or some activities. All can be reviewed within the ordinance on the City’s website.
Public facilities and businesses that are open to the public will be required to post a sign at their entrances stating that masks must be worn in the facility. To help businesses with this, the City of Joplin website has templates available to print by going to https://www.joplinmo.org/1089/Joplin-Face-Covering-Ordinance . Signs can be found by scrolling down on this page. Businesses will have the right to refuse service for failure to comply.
Enforcement of this ordinance focuses on education to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and encourage compliance. Future non-compliance could result in a civil citation.
During the meeting, Ryan Talken, director of the Joplin Health Department, cautioned the public about the next few weeks.
“As the community looks to the upcoming holidays, we recommend three strategies: wearing face masks, hand-washing, and social distancing.” He noted to “keep your circle small”, referring to the number of people you are in contact with for a period of time.
“It’s important to all of us this Thanksgiving and at other holiday gatherings that we stay vigilant and follow these strategies.”