Nixa, Mo. Mask Order: Mixed thoughts on new masking ordinance

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 4:07 PM CDT
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NIXA, Mo. (KY3) - The city of Nixa has issued an emergency order to require face masks in public when you cannot socially distance. It goes into effect at midnight Wednesday morning. Nixa changed it’s tune after a July meeting on the topic, where there was heated discussion on both sides of the battle.

After the public input meeting in July, Nixa city council decided not to require masks.

So, what changed?

The city tells KY3 it changed after both local hospitals, CoxHealth and Mercy, urged the Mayor to enact this masking order. They told Mayor Brian Steele the rising case numbers are causing a strain on hospital staffing and facilities.

The opinions on to mask or not to mask-- are as varied as the menu board at Walkabout Coffee Shop in Nixa.

“It’s okay if we have to wear it if we have a say about it, but I am not happy about what just happened.”

What happened was a unilateral decision by the mayor, Brian Steele. He was not available for comment Tuesday, due to his full-time job. However, the city public information officer spoke to KY3 on the city’s behalf.

Some are hot about the decision, others celebrate it.

“I think it’s about time. They’ve definitely been behind and with all the new cases that are still climbing in the country, I think it’s a good decision,” said Karissa McIntire. She says she is all for it because of the numbers.

Christian County Health Department is reporting 65 new cases since Friday. And they are monitoring 1,193 active cases. There are currently 19 Christian County patients in Springfield hospitals with COVID.

The hospitals reached out to the city directly. Neither are delaying other hospital services right now, but don’t want to have to do that.

As of Tuesday, Mercy has 86 COVID hospitalizations, and Cox has 94. Both are still taking patients. Mercy’s spokesperson says patient count is at an all time high for the virus, however, they will continue to use as many rooms needed to take on more patients.

“The Mayor has made a decision without the vote of Council. He is using his emergency powers that were provided to him by the council back in March to respond to the need of the community based on the trends that we are seeing and based on the pleas that we are hearing from our hospital systems in our local health care providers,” said Drew Douglas, Nixa’s public information officer.

Allison Silvey says the decision seems reactive, and too little, too late.

“I think I’d understand more if it was at the beginning of all this that they would do that, but now, I just it’s kind of pointless and I don’t know that it’s going to help.”

Others believe it is for the greater good.

“Going through a little bit of inconvenience for a big picture more positive outcome, I think we can all sacrifice a little bit to help everybody get there,” said Ryan Bauer.

The requirement is for anyone 12 and older to wear a mask in public through December 31st. There are some exemptions. Find out more about the order here:

What does this order require?

  1. Everyone over the age of 11, including employees or visitors, shall wear a face covering when present at a business or other location other than their own primary residence.

(Face Covering means a device that covers the nose and mouth, such as: a sewn mask secured with ties or straps around the head or behind the ears; multiple layers of fabric tied around the head; and may be made from a variety of materials such as fleece, cotton, or linen; and may be factory-made or made from household items.)

(Business means any for-profit company, non-profit organization, benevolent association, or educational entity, regardless of its legal organization, form, entity, tax treatment or structure.)

  1. A person may remove their Face Covering where otherwise required under the following circumstances:

a. When able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others while indoors or outdoors;

b. When engaged in an exercise activity;

c. While eating or drinking only when inside or in the outside dining area of a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service;

d. When an individual has a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a Face Covering;

e. When any party to a communication is deaf or hard of hearing and not wearing a Face Covering is essential to communication;

f. While obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the Face Covering, such as dental examinations;

g. When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity;

h. When federal or state law prohibits wearing a Face Covering or requires the removal of a Face Covering;

i. When requested by a law enforcement officer;

j. When requested by a medical provider, including emergency response personnel;

k. When giving a presentation, performance, or speech, or other similar activity, to a grouping of individuals in an indoor setting, provided that the presenter or performer shall maintain six feet of distance between other individuals while not wearing a Face Covering; or

l. When at any business where there are ten or fewer people present at said business, provided that such persons maintain at least six feet of distance between each other.

m. When a public safety officer is responding to an emergency.

  1. Persons qualifying for an exception shall take other reasonable actions to protect against or mitigate the potential for spread of COVID-19 while not wearing a Face Covering, such as maintaining at least six feet of distance between themselves and others or conducting activities outdoors.
  2. Except as otherwise provided in this Order, all businesses shall require Face Coverings to be worn as described in this Order.
  3. All businesses that are open to the public shall post a sign at all public entrances that the use of Face Coverings is required by those seeking to enter the business.

Will residents be subject to penalties for not wearing masks when required?

Violation of the order may result in a fine of up to $100.00 for each violation.

Any person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls a place at which Face Coverings are required by the order, and who fails to comply or require compliance may be subjected to a fine of up to $100.00 (but such persons will not be subject to fine if a patron or customer refuses to wear a Face Covering.) Each day on which a violation of the order occurs will be considered a separate and distinct violation.

The Mayor has ordered the city staff to enforce the order first through education, an opportunity for voluntary compliance, followed by a warning, and then a civil citation after warning.

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