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Springfield City Council amends COVID-19 regulations to remove masking requirement when outdoors

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woman in mask(KY3)
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 8:15 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield City Council unanimously passed a one-reading emergency bill to amend the city’s current COVID-19 regulations to remove the requirement for individuals to mask when outdoors, except when around large crowds.

On April 27, the Centers for Disease Control released new interim guidelines on activities that fully vaccinated people can participate in. This includes outdoor activities, gatherings and dining without wearing a mask. Due to the decreased risk of COVID-19 transmission outdoors, the agency also stated it was safe for unvaccinated people to participate in outdoor, unmasked activities with members of one’s household or other fully vaccinated people.

According to an April 28 Springfield-Greene County Health Department memo to Mayor Ken McClure and city council, the experience in Springfield-Greene County suggests this step is one that presents limited risk for increased disease transmission. Due to these factors, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department is recommending amending General Ordinance 6628, to be consistent with this guidance.

“Throughout our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department (SGCHD) has adapted our approaches to stay current with recommendations and guidance made by public health experts as well as our local experience,” according to the memo. “With each change, the goal to reduce the burden of disease on the community while placing the least number of limitations, has persisted. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its recommendations for masking when outdoors.”

In Springfield-Greene County, a limited number of cases have occurred in an outdoor setting. Of the approximately 28,800 cases in the community, 1,043 are connected with a potential outdoor exposure, representing only 3.6% of the total cases. Within these cases, common exposure risks were large gatherings, athletic events, and other events, such as funerals.

Based on this local experience and the new guidance from the CDC, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department recommends amending the current ordinance to allow individuals who are outdoors not to wear face masks in most settings.

While the recommended ordinance changes allow for everyone to remove their masks in certain outdoor settings, the department recommends individuals who are not yet vaccinated continue to mask when around others outdoors and to seek vaccination to protect themselves and the community. The department also recommends keeping a masking requirement in place for large outdoor settings where people are in close proximity to one another for an extended period of time. This should apply to gatherings of 500 people or more that place people together for more than 15 minutes where they cannot maintain a 6-foot distance at all times. The department does not recommend amending any masking requirements related to indoor settings.

“Our department is encouraged by being able to make this recommendation, but it also underscores the importance of vaccination. Vaccination is the long-term solution to fully recovering from COVID-19, both for individuals and the community. It is the replacement to community mitigation strategies because it reduces the likelihood of acquiring the virus, reduces the severity of COVID-19 for those that do become infected, and reduces the spread and overall impact of the virus throughout the community. We all have to continue to do our part to finish strong,” according to the memo.

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