TUCSON, Ariz. — The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 at a Friday emergency meeting to require everyone to wear face masks in public.
The resolution requires everyone over the age of 5 to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth when they're "in a public place and cannot maintain a continuous distance of at least six feet from all other persons," and is effective immediately.
Chairman Ramon Valdez, explained the amendments.
“To fathom that we would be able to put a mask on a two year-old, let alone, keep on...is not practical. So, we raised the age from two to five,” said Chairman Valadez.
The second was stating failure to wear a mask would not be a criminal offense.
“If there is a need to take such action. It has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.” he added.
There will also be no fines, at least for now.
“The intent, right up front, has been education,” said the Chairman.
Mayor Regina Romero also spoke up during a virtual council meeting, directing the City Manager to provide face masks for people entering city buildings and using public transportation.
“Make sure that we’re also making face masks available to nonprofit organizations that take care of our homeless communities,” he said.
As the coronavirus continues to spread in Arizona, here’s Chairman Valadez’s message to Pima County residents.
“This is incredibly serious folks and the person we save by wearing the face mask could be someone we love. So let’s all be together in this and watch out for each other,” he told KGUN9.
The resolution outlines a number of exemptions, including:
- Anyone who "cannot medically tolerate" wearing a mask
- On-duty law enforcement officers
- While obtaining a service "involving the nose, face or head"
- While eating or drinking at a restaurant, as long as they're able to maintain physical distance from others
- Those who live together, as long as their group can maintain physical distance from others
- Anyone exercising or working outdoors
- Incarcerated prisoners
The order also says other exemptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis by county health officials.
The board held an emergency meeting to discuss the resolution two days after Gov. Ducey granted local governments the authority to mandate the use of face masks. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero instituted an emergency declaration to do just that the next day.
The new measure also comes amid a spike in COVID-19 cases reported in Arizona. Although the state is performing a record number of tests, the percent of those tests that come back positive is steadily rising as well.
As with Mayor Romero's declaration, the Pima County resolution says enforcement of the mask mandate will focus on education. Those in violation of the order will be given notice to correct their actions before further action is taken.
At Friday's meeting, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said businesses or other organizations that are still not in compliance after a warning could face fines or face a loss of liquor license. The resolution also says it can't be enforced by law enforcement or the courts without the expressed permission of the Board of Supervisors.