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The public attends the Athens City Council meeting in Athens City Hall on Monday, February 3, 2020.

City Council: Mask order ordinance passed, effective immediately

Athens City Council passed an ordinance Monday mandating the use of masks in public following a spike of COVID-19 cases after the July 4 weekend.

The ordinance requires all people in Athens to wear masks in public places, including within businesses, places of worship, city-owned buildings, public transportation and even outside when at least 6 feet of social distancing is not possible. 

The mask order is effective immediately, and those found in violation of the order can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $100. 

Students, faculty and administrators of schools are also exempted from the order, but only to comply with directions from their governing bodies. This means that Ohio University students and employees are exempted from the city order when on university property but will be subject to OU mask rules and guidelines.

OU does not currently have any rule mandating its students and employees to wear masks, but university officials are working on creating one, Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said.

The mask order applies to all people within Athens with few exceptions. Those exceptions include:

  • Medical conditions causing an individual not to be able to wear a mask
  • Children under 10 years old
  • Restaurant and bar patrons when eating or drinking
  • In settings where a mask is not practical, like while swimming
  • Walking outdoors when separated from others by 6 feet
  • Exercising in a gym while separated from others by 6 feet
  • In a non-public workplace when individuals are at least 6 feet apart
  • In a personal vehicle
  • Public safety officers when a mask would interfere with their official duties 
  • Those complying with directions from public safety officers
  • Individuals completing a task who would be out of compliance with industry safety standards, like OSHA, if they were to wear a mask
  • Individuals who lead religious ceremonies


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