Yellow Springs first Ohio community to require masks by law

Jeannine Neubauer, left, and Meg Huey, walked around Yellow Springs wearing masks Thursday. The Village passed a resolution to make it a requirement to wear a mask and properly social distance while in the “business district” of Yellow Springs. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF
Jeannine Neubauer, left, and Meg Huey, walked around Yellow Springs wearing masks Thursday. The Village passed a resolution to make it a requirement to wear a mask and properly social distance while in the “business district” of Yellow Springs. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

The Village of Yellow Springs has become the first Ohio community to pass legislation requiring its residents and visitors to wear face masks.

The village council passed a resolution at Monday night’s meeting to implement a physical distancing, facial covering and hand sanitizing and washing requirement. The resolution is effective over the village-zoned Central Business District. Village president of council, Brian Housh, said the resolution will be in place until either Dec. 30 or when the governor or Ohio Department of Health removes the state of emergency.

The resolution is the first of its kind passed in the state, according to ODH press secretary Melanie Amato.

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“One of the challenges we’ve had recently in Yellow Springs is that, because we have all these great amenities and a lot of people around us don’t, that’s meant a lot of people have flocked to our community,” Housh said. “There had been a lot of demand for that (resolution) from community members.”

According to the resolution, all people in the village-zoned Central Business District must maintain distance of at least six feet apart from people not in their “group,” must wear a facial covering and must regularly sanitize or wash their hands.

Currently, there is no punishment in place for residents who do not comply with the resolution.

“Right now, it’s self-compliance,” Housh said. “We have not yet attached a fine or some other kind of penalty to it, so our hope is that people will recognize the expectations we have in Yellow Springs and be respectful — and if they come to town without a mask, then we’ll try and get a mask in their hand.”

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Most shops in the business district are selling masks, as well, Housh added.

In the resolution, the new requirements were declared an emergency measure under home rule power granted by the Village Charter.

“Council for the Village of Yellow Springs does hereby recognize that the Village population is comprised of many people who are considered to be ‘at risk’ if they contract the COVID-19 virus,” stated the resolution. “Yellow Springs is a community frequented by persons who travel from locations both outside the Village and county.”

The resolution stated it weighed available information about the COVID-19 virus and consulted with the Greene County Combined Health District, considered the guidance of the Ohio Department of Health and input from Governor DeWine, residents, business owners and Village team members.