But on Friday, Mayor Will Joyce relaxed the rule to encourage, but not force, face coverage, after several reports of employees experiencing verbal abuse and threats of physical abuse while trying to do so comply with the order – all in just three hours from the rule coming into force.
“Many of those who have objections cite the mistaken belief that this requirement is unconstitutional, and according to their theory, one cannot be forced to wear a mask. No law or court supports this view, “said city manager Norman McNickle in a statement. “It is even more distressing for these people, while exercising their presumed rights, to put others in danger. “
McNickle went on to explain the importance of face covers in preventing the spread of coronavirus. The masks have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Yet the city is changing the rule because officials “cannot, in good conscience, endanger our local business community, or the police everywhere,” said McNickle.
Since April 3, the CDC has recommended that Americans wear “cloth blankets” in public places.
The updated guidelines were in light of new evidence that many people transmitted the virus asymptomatically – which means that even people with no symptoms transmitted it by coughing, sneezing, or even just talking nearby.
“The idea of the face mask is to keep the virus from getting out of someone’s mouth and nose, mainly from their mouth,” Dr. Joseph Vinetz, professor in the infectious diseases section of the department, told CNN. Yale School of Medicine. April. “They prevent someone, when they speak or sometimes when they sneeze or cough, from expelling the virus and causing infection in other people. “
However, masks are not a substitute for social distancing, which is still necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
CNN’s Kristen Rogers contributed to this report.