Mayor Will Joyce announced that an amended Emergency Proclamation affecting the opening of certain businesses within the City was issued this afternoon. The amendment is in response to concerns voiced by business proprietors and citizens about the proclamation going into effect early this morning. The changes are related to wearing face coverings and extends the duration of the proclamation to May 31 at 11:59 p.m. This proclamation will be subject to continued amendments as necessary.
City Manager Norman McNickle said, “In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse. In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm. This has occurred in three short hours and in the face of clear medical evidence that face coverings helps contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Many of those with objections cite the mistaken belief the requirement is unconstitutional, and under their theory, one cannot be forced to wear a mask. No law or court supports this view. In fact, a recent Federal lawsuit against Guthrie’s face covering order was fully dismissed by the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
“It is further distressing that these people, while exercising their believed rights, put others at risk. As mentioned, there is clear medical evidence the face coverings prevent COVID-19 spread; they are recommended by both the CDC and the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The wearing of face coverings is little inconvenience to protect both the wearer and anyone with whom they have contact. And, an unprotected person who contracts the virus can infect their own loved ones and others.
“It is further well settled that a business is private property to which people do not have unfettered right of entry. Just as a business has the right to enforce 'No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service,' the business can require a face covering as a condition to entry.
“The City of Stillwater has attempted to keep people safe by the simple requirement to wear a face covering to protect others. It is unfortunate and distressing that those who refuse and threaten violence are so self-absorbed as to not follow what is a simple show of respect and kindness to others.
“In that effort to insure the safety of others, we now have to weigh the safety of store owners and employees to threats of violence. We cannot, in clear conscience, put our local business community in harm’s way, nor can the police be everywhere. Accordingly, we will now be asking our local stores and business to encourage, but not require, patrons to cover their faces. Of course, each business can choose to adopt a more stringent approach, and we ask everyone to respect and abide by such decisions.
Wearing a face covering is an easy way to support the health of your community and speed our recovery from this pandemic. Please do so.”