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The Rundown – City Commission pursues recommendation for face masks

Post Date:07/07/2020 5:08 PM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

11 a.m. July 7, 2020, Newton City Commission meeting

At a special meeting Tuesday, the Newton City Commission voted not to mandate the wearing of masks in public spaces to help slow the spread of COVID-19 but instead to pursue an official recommendation to wear them.

The Commissioners directed City staff to bring back a resolution for them to consider at their July 14 meeting. It would recommend that all people in Newton cover their mouths and noses with a mask or other face covering when they are in the following situations:

  1. Inside any indoor public space where distancing of six feet between individuals is not possible at all times.
  2. In line and waiting to enter an indoor public space.
  3. Obtaining health-care services.
  4. Waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle.
  5. While outdoors in public spaces and unable to maintain a six-foot distance between individuals.

The recommendation would include exceptions for children age 5 years or under, people with a medical condition that prevents wearing a face covering, people who are hearing impaired or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, people eating in restaurants, etc.

The Commission heard nearly two hours of public comments for and against a mask mandate. City staff had presented three options: a City ordinance enforceable by the Police Department with fines for non-compliance, a resolution without enforceable penalties, or taking no action on the matter.

The Commission opted to pursue the resolution, adding that churches should be excluded and that mask usage in schools should be left to the discretion of the School District. Commissioners will make the final decision on July 14.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or