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City Mask Ordinance Expiring, But Mayor Says Some Requirements Will Remain

City of Tulsa
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum (right) and American Sign Language interpreter Glenna Cooper at a Thursday press conference in the Tulsa City Council chamber.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Thursday that while the city's mandatory COVID-19 mask ordinance will be expiring at the end of Friday -- including a requirement for food service employees to wear masks while working -- certain other restrictions will remain in place.

"That doesn't mean that everyone should have mask-burning parties over the weekend," Bynum said of the expiration at a press conference at City Hall. "Masks will still be required in city facilities that will be reopening to the public, places like our permitting center or police records division. Those have been closed for a while now. Those will reopen for people to be able to go to, but if you need to do business in a city facility indoors, you need to have a mask on."

Bynum noted that Tulsa Transit and Tulsa International Airport are among other entities that are continuing to require masks for passengers and staff.

Bynum said the decision to allow the citywide order expire was based on a recommendation from the Tulsa Health Department, who advised it was no longer necessary given declining rates of infection. 

He said the city still encouraged business owners to require masks of staff and patrons if they so choose.

"They can make the decision ... based on their best judgment of the safety of their individual facility," Bynum said. 

"If they have that requirement in place and people won't respect it, they can ask them to leave, and if people won't follow that they can call the Tulsa Police Department and we will enforce the trespass ordinance just as we have throughout this pandemic or that we have for years beforehand," Bynum said. "That is a fundamental right of property owners and business owners here in Tulsa, is to set standards for your clientele and know that the Tulsa Police Department will be there to back you up if people won't leave your facility."

THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart said the department still recommends the wearing of masks.

"I encourage business owners to continue to follow the science and recommend mask-wearing in accordance with CDC guidelines," Dart said.

Bynum said he has not ended the city's civil emergency declaration status. 

"There is still a pandemic here in our community," Bynum said. "The state of civil emergency in Tulsa is still here until we reach the numbers that we need to reach around vaccinations and hospitalizations."

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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