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People in Forest Park will be required to wear masks or face coverings in some public settings, according to a directive signed by Mayor Rory Hoskins and effective Friday, April 24.

Hoskins used the authority granted to him during a declared state of emergency to sign the directive, which, as stated in the official document, is based on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and U. S. Surgeon General recommendation that all individuals wear cloth face coverings in public settings and “is issued to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within the village.”

Face coverings are defined in the directive as being made “of cloth or other material that is reasonably designed and made to inhibit, filter, or restrict the breath, sneeze, cough, or other exhaling from one’s nose and mouth.” The directive does not recommend medical grade masks, as those “should be reserved for use by health care providers and first responders.”

Masks or face coverings must be used during the following activities in Forest Park:

  • Working at or patronizing essential businesses that are open to the public or when employees have contact with the public. This includes customers and employees at places such as grocery stores, restaurants, hardware stores, banks, laundromats, auto repair shops, and landscaping businesses or activities. It also requires employees who are delivering food or providing curbside service.
  • Engaging in essential activities such as shopping, visiting a health care professional, or seeking medical supplies or medication.
  • Riding on public transportation, taxis or ride share vehicles.

This directive does not apply to persons:

  • Engaging in outdoor activity while practicing social or physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others.
  • Riding alone in a personal vehicle.
  • Who are alone or with household members in a separate single space.
  • While eating or drinking.

Under this directive, a business owner has the right to refuse admission or service to a customer who isn’t wearing a face covering. Those who refuse to follow the directive can be issued a warning by the police department. A second offense can result in a citation or arrest.

But according to Hoskins in an interview, “The purpose of this is not to create more police interaction or arrest people; the purpose is to make sure everyone is protected, including essential workers who have regular contact with the public.”

Hoskins also said that social distancing is still recommended; wearing facial coverings does not replace the need to stay a safe distance away from others.

As the directive states: “Social and physical distancing is still the first, best, and required practice to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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