City Council Approves, Bynum Signs Mask Mandate Ordinance Taking Effect Immediately

Jul 16, 2020

Update 9:20 a.m.: This story, photo, and headline have been updated to reflect that the ordinance has been signed by the mayor and is now in effect.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has signed an ordinance that requires adults to wear face coverings in many public settings, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 among a skyrocketing number of cases and hospitalizations.

Bynum has stressed for weeks that he would only introduce such a measure if Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, recommended it, which Dart did on Friday. Bynum said he believes the measure is necessary, citing requests for such a requirement from local hospital leaders, medical groups, and school districts.

Bynum introduced the ordinance to the Tulsa City Council on Tuesday, and the body voted to approve the measure on Wednesday evening.

"I am very grateful for the broad support of the Tulsa City Council in approving this important ordinance. Our local health care leaders made clear how important this is, and they listened," the mayor said in a statement.

The measure passed the council 7-2, with only councilors Cass Fahler (District 5) and Connie Dodson (District 6) voting against. 

The ordinance includes exceptions for houses of worship, for those who are eating and drinking, and others.

Dart said last week that Tulsa County's outbreak was the worst in the state. Oklahoma shattered records on Wednesday, reporting that more people are hospitalized (638) with COVID-19 than at any point in the pandemic, and reported more than 1,000 confirmed new cases in a single day for the first time ever. The state's outbreak is now so severe that many states and cities across the country have implemented mandatory quarantine orders for arriving Oklahomans. 

Gov. Kevin Stitt and Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith both announced Wednesday that they have tested positive for the disease.