Omaha council details mask ordinance ahead of Tuesday vote

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 3:19 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 4:37 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As the City Council prepares to vote on a face mask ordinance Tuesday, an amendment to the agenda was issued Monday with new details about how it might work.

The proposed ordinance was requested by Councilmembers Chris Jerram, Pete Festersen, and Ben Gray.

If passed in its current iteration, the ordinance would require face coverings to be worn over the nose and mouth by anyone ages 5 and older while indoors at any location open to the general public — including private businesses, clubs, religious centers, educational facilities, and daycares.

Masks would not be required if individuals are able, at all times, to maintain a minimum of six feet of distance from anyone who are not members of their household.

Masks will also would not be required for those who have a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that makes wearing a mask unreasonable, or under other exceptions, such as like if the person is alone, officiating religious services, or is swimming or showering.

If the ordinance goes into effect, businesses open to the general public that fails to comply with the ordinance could be declared a nuisance and danger to public health, safety, and welfare, according to the city documents. A possible example would be a Lincoln billiards hall which was shut down by health officials last weekend.

The fine for violating the face maske ordinance and being found guilty would be a misdemeanor offense possibly subject to a $25 fine — that’s down from an initial proposal of $100. Each violation may be considered a separate offense, the documents state.

The ordinance would also require the health director of the City of Omaha to submit a report to the mayor and city council every Tuesday regarding:

  • Information on current cases in the city
  • Number of new cases diagnosed
  • Number of tests performed
  • The positivity rate of those tests
  • Number of new deaths
  • Omaha-metro area hospital occupancy rate
  • Ventilator utilization rate
  • COVID-19 hospitalization rate
  • A breakdown of cases by ZIP code
  • Any other information the health director deems relevant

To pass, the ordinance will require six of seven votes and will expire Sept. 15 unless extended by the city council.

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