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Mask/Face Covering FAQs

Where can I go for the latest information on Masks and COVID-19?

What does the Mask Ordinance say?
“Except as otherwise provided herein, persons located within Public Service Areas of Places of Public Accommodation or an Educational Building are required to wear face coverings at all times when present therein. Except as otherwise provided herein, persons in any Public Setting wherein social or physical distancing cannot be maintained are required to wear face coverings.”

What is an acceptable face covering?
"Face Covering" means a covering that fully covers a person's nose and mouth. The term "Face Covering" includes, but is not limited to, cloth face masks, towels, scarves, and bandanas as recommended by the CDC or Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). An N95, KN95, or other mask would be appropriate for a healthcare setting, or a surgical mask. The Face Covering should fit snuggly on a person's face but allow the person to breathe easily when it is worn under the guidance provided by the CDC or OSDH.

Who is required to wear a mask in Tulsa?
Everyone 10 years old or older is required to wear a mask in places of public accommodation in Tulsa city limits. The Tulsa City Council on Sept. 30, 2020, passed an amendment to the existing mask ordinance, lowering the age requirement for those required to wear masks from 18 years old to 10 years old.

Is my child required to wear a mask?
If your child is 10 years old or older, they are required to wear a mask in places of public accommodation and in places where social distancing isn’t possible, such as places like the grocery store, etc.

I have a child younger than 10 years old. Are they required to wear a mask?
By City ordinance, no.

My school district says my child needs to wear a mask, but this ordinance exempts masks for those under the age of 10. Which should I follow?
Parents should adhere to their specific school district on guidance as it relates to masks when returning to school. The school district may require your child to wear a mask, depending on your specific district. Check with your district as to their guidelines on masks in schools.

I’m afraid my child won’t wear the mask and/or will keep touching it constantly. What should I do?
It’s asked parents educate their children on the importance of proper mask-wearing and hygiene safety. Parents who normalize mask-wearing themselves and who lead by example could help set the precedent for their children. Additionally, the better your child’s mask fits, the less likely they will be to constantly touch it throughout the day. Please ask your child to refrain from swapping or touching other children’s masks and be sure to wash/swap out your child’s mask with a new/clean one after each use.

How long will the face covering ordinance remain in effect?
The ordinance will expire the earlier of January 31, 2021, or when the expiration of all Civil Emergency Orders related to COVID-19 issued by the Mayor; or by repeal, modification or extension by the City Council through a subsequent ordinance.

Why is the City of Tulsa adopting a face covering ordinance?
The number of confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in Tulsa has increased since July. 

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. It is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans and can spread from person to person. The current scientific understanding of this virus from the CDC indicates that it spreads mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. These respiratory droplets can land in the mouths or on noses of nearby people or can possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet). Currently, there is no vaccine, treatment or cure for COVID-19.

Visit the State Health Department’s Dashboard.

Why are face coverings required? I’ve heard they can make you sick and have been proven to not protect you.
The transmission of COVID-19 remains a significant threat to the health and safety of the Tulsa community and rates of infection are increasing at an alarming, exponential rate. Health experts agree that implementing protective health measures, such as social distancing and face coverings, help in reducing the rate of transmission of the virus.

Cloth face coverings aren’t primarily intended to protect the wearer. They are intended primarily to protect others in the vicinity of the wearer. COVID-19 spreads more easily through respiratory droplets produced when a person talks, coughs and sneezes. A simple cloth face covering has proven effective in reducing the spread of the wearer’s respiratory droplets. CDC, THD and OSDH all agree cloth face coverings offer this protection with little-to-no negative health impacts to the wearer.

Medical grade masks, such as N95 respirators, should be saved for healthcare professionals. Those masks offer the wearer more protection than cloth face coverings do, and with the current surge in hospital capacity, N95 respirators are in high demand and low inventory has impacted the public’s ability to access to these masks.

Are there exceptions to the face covering ordinance?
Yes, they are listed below:

Does the face covering ordinance apply to non-public areas?
Face coverings are not required in any non-public area, such as a private office or work area, as long as the persons present are able to maintain physical distancing from others not from the same household.

What is a "Public Service Area?"
“Public Service Area” means areas of a Place of Public Accommodation or an Educational Institution wherein employees interact with the public in the normal course of business. These could be lobbies, waiting areas and other similar locations.

What is a "Place of Public Accommodation?"
Most of the stores and service providers in town. It is impossible to list all, but here are some examples:

What is an "Educational Institution?"
“Educational Institution” means any building or facility used for academic or athletic purposes on public school campuses, and any private school or preschool. This term excludes the playing surface of any athletic facility during organized activities and practices.

What is a "Public Setting?"
Any public place where people congregate that does not fit the definition of Public Accommodation or Educational Institution. These places can be either indoors or outdoors in certain circumstances.
Examples include:

Can my business deny entry to those not wearing masks?
Businesses may deny entry to any patron who refuses to wear a face mask. Businesses may use TPD’s non-emergency number, (918) 596-9222, to report non-compliance for someone who is trespassing after being told to leave.

Are my employees and staff required to wear face coverings at all times?
Employees and staff are required to wear face coverings whenever they are working in an area where they will interact with the public when the public is present. Additionally, restaurant, coffee shop, and bar employees are required to wear masks, pursuant to the City’s existing 2020-13 Executive Order

Face coverings must be worn in offices and work areas not open to the public whenever social and physical distancing cannot be maintained.

What are the fines/consequences of non-compliance?
Though there is no penalty directly related to non-compliance, violators refusing to wear a face covering into a Place of Public Accommodation, Educational Institution, or Public Setting will be subject to prosecution under criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct or similar offenses as circumstances warrant.

An example of this would include a grocery store manager who asked a patron to leave because that patron was refusing to wear a mask. The grocery store manager could make a complaint to the TPD non-emergency number, (918) 596-9222, and officers could cite that individual for trespassing. Similarly, disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct in relation to individuals refusing to wear a mask will also be enforced.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I go to a restaurant?
Yes, a face covering is required when entering a restaurant. When you are sitting at the table and/or eating or drinking, you may remove your face covering. However, when getting up to visit the restroom or leaving the restaurant, you will be required to put it back on.

Do I have to wear a face covering when I go into a casino?
No. Because casinos are sovereign land, this ordinance does not apply. Any mask mandate inside the casino would be the responsibility of the casino itself.

Should I still practice social distancing while exercising outdoors?
Yes, keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from others while engaging in physical activities, even when outdoors, reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Do people need to wear face coverings while working out in a gym?
Only if they cannot maintain 6 feet of separation from non-household members in the gym.

I have a reason I cannot wear a face covering. Am I required to document or prove that?
No, the ordinance does not require you to document or prove a reason for not wearing a face covering. If a business won’t allow you to enter their office or store, ask them what accommodations they can provide, such as curbside pick-up, delivery or virtual meeting options.

Should I say something if someone near me isn’t wearing a face covering?
The mask requirement is intended to promote public health and safety, not public arguments or confrontations. If you feel your health and safety is threatened, you may politely ask the other person to maintain at least a 6-foot distance. Because of HIPAA laws, which regulate the release of personal health information, you cannot ask them to provide a health condition, as defined by the CDC, as to why they are unable to wear a mask.

Masks can be hard to find at the store. Any help here?
Face coverings can be made from a variety of household materials that most people have at their disposal. You can even make a face covering from an extra shirt you have lying around, if you have nothing else. For an easy-to-make cloth face covering using only a bandana and hair ties, watch this video.

What should I do if I see someone not wearing a mask?
Unless the person is violating the law, such as trespassing, engaging in disorderly conduct or is disturbing the peace, you don’t need to report the incident. If the person is engaging in one of those violations, you can make a report to TPD’s non-emergency number at (918) 596-9222. If you perceive the action as immediately life-threatening, don’t hesitate to call 911.

What happens if I refuse to wear a face covering as required by the ordinance? Is there a penalty?
It depends on the circumstances. If you go to a business or other place that is covered by the ordinance without a face covering, the establishment has the right to ask you to either put on a face covering on before entering or they can ask you to leave. If you refuse to do either, the manager can, at his or her sole discretion, call the police and an officer will be dispatched to assist. If you still refuse to comply with the face covering requirement, the establishment can sign a complaint and the police officer will issue you a citation for trespassing and direct you to leave immediately. If you cause a disturbance, threaten or use physical violence to enter, you can be arrested accordingly.

Is wearing a face covering safe? It feels hard to breathe when I wear one.
While some people have health conditions that make face coverings unsafe, they are safe for nearly all of us, even if they feel uncomfortable at first and take a while to get used to. Public health experts agree face coverings are an important tool in preventing COVID and research is increasingly suggesting widespread use is effective. Make sure your face covering covers your mouth and nose but isn’t overly tight or restrictive. Choose a soft fabric such as cotton knit or use a bandana or scarf if that feels more comfortable. Visit CDC’s website to learn how to ensure your face covering is worn properly.

I can legally carry a concealed firearm in Oklahoma, but can I wear a COVID 19 protective mask while carrying concealed?
Yes. Wearing a mask is only prohibited by state law if it is worn “during the commission of a crime or for the purpose of coercion, intimidation or harassment,” or if you commit an assault with a dangerous weapon while masked in disguise
§ 1301. Masks and Hoods - Unlawful to Wear - Exceptions
§ 1302. Trespass - Demanding Admission to Premises - Unlawful
§ 1303. Assaults - While Masked - Felony