Tulsa's city council voted unanimously Wednesday night to extend the expiration date of the city's mask ordinance.
It requires people 10 and older to wear masks in public places and was set to expire at the end of the month. It will now be in effect until midnight April 30.
"This is so important to our city. We are not out of … our pandemic. Just because people are getting vaccinations does not mean this is over," Councilor Jeannie Cue said in a committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Tulsa County recently had a run of six consecutive new COVID hospitalization highs and remains within touching distance of its record seven-day average. Councilor Phil Lakin said if the mask mandate weren't extended, something else would have to happen.
"In the spring of last year, one of our measures was — and I don’t think anybody enjoyed — having to shut down businesses," Lakin said.
City Councilor Lori Decter Wright is part of the city's COVID mitigation working group. She said they met with Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart before the extension came to the council. He told the group fundamental mitigation measures like wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing must continue for awhile longer.
"And when I asked him what was his recommendation for where we should extend the sunset, he actually said he’s very confident that we will need to be in this mode through the end of summer," Decter Wright said.
City officials have committed to reviewing the mask ordinance every 90 days. The extension also covers amendments passed in November that give the health department power to enforce the mask requirement at businesses that don't comply, require bars and restaurants to space tables six feet apart or install dividers, and require approved safety plans for gatherings of 150 people or more.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said Wednesday night he will sign the ordinance extension when it reaches his desk.