TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Starting Saturday, Tucsonans must wear face coverings in public. Thursday afternoon, Mayor Regina Romero signed the emergency proclamation into law.
“Public health experts have said that using face coverings and facemasks is one of the most effective ways of helping stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Romero. “When one person wears it and another doesn’t, it really leaves people open to the continuation of the COVID-19 spread.”
Romero says it was the trajectory of positive COVID-19 cases that prompted her to “act swiftly” on the city’s behalf.
“We saw numbers spiking related to the reopening of businesses in Arizona,” she said. “Just Tuesday, we saw one of the biggest spikes of cases throughout the state; we had about 2,400 cases in one day. In Pima County alone, on Tuesday, we saw 325 [positive] COVID-19 cases.”
Under the proclamation, informed by C.D.C. recommendations, those over the age of 2 must wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible in public. This includes public transit, taxis and ride-sharing vehicles, grocery stores, retail stores, healthcare facilities, pharmacies, gyms, bars and restaurants.
“[In restaurants, face coverings are required] when not seated,” said Romero. “So, when they are seated and have their food in front of them, they can take their face mask off.”
Face coverings will also be required in office settings and outdoors when people are within 6 feet of each other.
Exceptions will be made at pools and dental clinics, and for those with medical conditions or developmental disabilities making the use of a face covering difficult.
First responders will not be required to wear face coverings if it interferes or limits their ability to carry out their duties.
Daycares are asked to use best practices. Enforcement will be flexible with children.
“We added language in the proclamation that says, ‘As much as parents or guardians can control their children’,” Romero said.
KOLD News 13 took the proclamation to the street to find out what residents think.
“I support it. I think just out of common courtesy for the people who I’m around I would want to be wearing a face covering,” said Victoria Davis. “I know that I’m doing everything in my power to make sure I’m not spreading it, so it makes me feel more comfortable knowing that others are doing the same thing.”
“I am a Type One diabetic,” said Elizabeth Ogunbunmi. “I wholeheartedly agree that people should be wearing masks.”
“I am against it because I don’t know how [the city] plans on funding it,” said Thomas Glenn. “I work at a hospital and hospital staff don’t have enough masks, let alone N95s. If it’s just face coverings, I don’t really see a need for that because they are not N95 masks. I’d like to see how they plan on enforcing that, too.”
“We are going to have an educational approach [to enforcement],” said Romero. “If there is a blatant disregard to the public health of others - if absolutely necessary - we will issue a civil infraction.”
That civil penalty could cost up to $50 or 5 hours of community service, enforced by Tucson Police.
The city says it will distribute face coverings to low income residents.