The Tulsa City Council adopted on Wednesday three changes to an ordinance requiring residents to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The main one makes masks mandatory for children 10 and up.
A waiver of rules to consider the changes on first reading, the changes themselves and an emergency clause passed on 8–0 votes. Councilor Connie Dodson was absent.
The city has required adults to wear masks indoors in public places and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained since July.
Councilor Crista Patrick said presentations from doctors and public health officials showed councilors that while they may rarely suffer severe cases of COVID-19, older children carry the same quantity of the highly infectious virus as adults.
"So, not only are we seeing an uptick in that age range, but that is where they have the same viral effects of exposure and … spread as adults," Patrick said.
Councilor Phil Lakin said he hopes parents relay the change to their kids with a sense of duty to their fellow humans, not with fear.
"I definitely don’t want my own kids being asymptomatic and transmitting a virus that they carry to, let’s say, my dad, who’s 80 years old, or me and then I give it to my dad, who I see often," Lakin said.
The council also passed an exemption to the ordinance during sports where wearing a mask is impractical and extended its sunset date to Jan. 31. The council may, however, act to change or withdraw the ordinance at any time.
There was just one public comment on the proposed changes, an email in support of lowering the age.
Changes to the ordinance must be signed by Mayor G.T. Bynum, who has said he supports lowering the age requirement.