Monroe council considering mask mandate, civil penalties

Monroe City Council will consider an emergency ordinance that will require the mandatory wearing of masks in public in an effort to prevent spreading of the coronavirus.

At the request of some council members, the proposed ordinance will be on today's agenda for discussion and possible adoption. Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting will be streamed live on the city's Facebook page,

If approved, it will mandate all places of business to require all employees, contractors, volunteers, and any other individuals that interact with the public to wear a face covering, and can only allows businesses to sell items or transact business with those who are in compliance.

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Any manager, owner, or person in charge of a place of business who fails or refuses to comply with this ordinance may be in violation of this ordinance.

City officials are citing Section 660.02 of Monroe’s General Offenses Code that “prohibits persons knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that he or she is suffering from a dangerous, contagious disease, shall knowingly fail to take reasonable measures to prevent exposing himself or herself to other persons, except when seeking medical aid.”

According to the proposed ordinance, there is a three-step enforcement process:

• Initial warning: The code enforcement inspector will issue a verbal verbal warning, along with written information of the ordinance requirements, provided that the code enforcement inspector is made aware of the violation and witnessed the violation.

• Second warning: The code enforcement inspector will issue a written warning, along with written information pertaining to the ordinance requirements in the event the code enforcement inspector is made aware of the second violation and has witnessed said second violation.

• Subsequent violations: Any places of business found to be in violation of this ordinance by the Code Enforcement Inspector, who has witnessed subsequent violations, shall be charged a civil penalty of $125 for each subsequent violation.

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The face mask or coverings, which much cover the nose and mouth, will be required through Dec. 30, 2020 or by an order issued by the Governor of the State of Ohio or Director of the Ohio Department of Health that a state of emergency no longer exists in Ohio.

On July 8, the Ohio Department of Health supplemented existing statewide orders with a system of further guidance to protect Ohioans. Butler County is now at Level 3 and was one of several counties identified by the state as experiencing a very high exposure and spread of COVID-19. To mitigate the danger, all residents of these counties were ordered by the Ohio Department of Health to wear facial coverings in accordance with the requirements set forth in said Order of July 8, 2020.

Level 3 means older Ohioans and those with medical conditions associated with COVID-19 complications should consider avoiding unnecessary contact with others, such as social gatherings, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the governor’s office. At Level 4, the advisory would change to encourage residents to stay home except for essential activities, such as going to work, going to the doctor, and getting groceries or other goods and services, according to the governor’s office.

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