The Memphis government is mandating the use of masks in many instances, with detailed instructions on when to do so or who may be exempt.
Mayor Jim Strickland signed a mask ordinance Thursday, WREG reported. The city council approved the ordinance 9-4 last week.
People are required to wear facial coverings in businesses, government offices, hospitals, public transit and some public spaces within the city limits during the current public health emergency. They’re even required while standing in line outside a business.
Enforcement is expected to be enforced by warnings for initial violations but no monetary fines or criminal penalties. Businesses may be fined $100.
The ordinance is available here. It is highly detailed on the dos and don’ts of wearing masks.
The government does give its permission for restaurant patrons to remove their masks when they are seated for dining. Because bicyclists and runners expel airborne particles more forcefully, they should take such precautions as wearing a mask when possible, crossing the street when there are pedestrians and “never spitting.”
Unconscious people are also exempt.
Oh, and children under 12 will not be asked to wear a mask. Kids 2 and younger “must not” due to the risk of suffocation.
The mayor’s Friday COVID-19 update showed there had been 116,242 tests performed in Shelby County and 8,688 cases, or 7.5 percent. With 176 deaths, the death rate is 2 percent.
Strickland is trying to sell his mask requirement by bringing in personal narratives.
The mayor asked Dr. Manoj Jain, the city’s contracted medical advisor, to give a statement on why he believes it is important for people to wear masks. The doctor told a story of how he urged two mechanics to wear a mask when he had his car worked on. His daughter (wearing a mask) was with him. At the end of his story, he dragged his daughter into the narrative.
As we left the dealership my daughter (still in a mask) said, “Dad, I hope they listen to you.”
“Me too,” I said.
Strickland hopes you listen to Jain and his daughter, too.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.