NORFOLK, Neb. (KTIV) - During a special meeting held Monday, the city council for Norfolk, Nebraska passed an emergency ordinance requiring facial coverings in the city.
The ordinance passes unanimously and requires Norfolk residents over the age of five to wear masks or face-coverings while inside any building that is open to the public. City officials say those who do not wear a mask can be charged with a $25 fine.
"Our goal is not to be heavy-handed, which is one of people's concerns," said Norfolk Police Chief Don Miller. "Our goal would be to take a view of education and voluntary compliance. If you look at the agencies that have done this, there has not been a need to be heavy-handed."
Any business that is open to the general public is required to establishment reminding customers of the mask requirement. Those businesses include private-sector entities, public-sector entities, nonprofit organizations, regular commercial or business establishments, private clubs, religious centers and any place which is generally open to the public, including education facilities and daycares.
The ordinance does not apply to individuals with underlying health conditions that prevent wearing a mask. Employees also do not have to wear a mask while at their desk or station so long as they are socially distanced from co-workers or have sufficient barriers, such as plexiglass, between each other. Other exceptions to the mask requirement can be found inside the full ordinance.
Mayor Josh Moenning said the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Madison County and the surrounding area led to the proposal of the mask ordinance.
Several residents addressed the council during the meeting voicing their concerns over a mask ordinance. Some said governmental bodies, both local and federal, should not issue mask mandates because they infringe on civil liberties.
The ordinance goes into effect in three days and goes until Feb. 16, 2021. The Norfolk City Council says the ordinance could be shortened or extended depending on the latest COVID-19 updates in the community.
View the full ordinance here.Emergency-Ordinance-for-Norfolk-Nebraska-masks
This is a Developing Story. We'll have more information as it becomes available.