Mayor's Corner: Lakewood Fighting Back

Lakewood is fighting back against the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. We witnessed our police officers lead teachers and 2020 graduates in car parades. We watched our business community rally around the #TogetherForBetter campaign. We provided thousands of pounds of free food distributed across Lakewood to our homebound seniors or to those in need. It is all-hands-on-deck at City Hall. My administration is marshalling every available resource and doing all it can to support you. All of this is happening to protect and preserve the fabric of our community.

City Council and I are fighting for you too. As Governor DeWine and his team make decisions that will affect all of us in this pandemic, they are trying to strike a balance between the health of Ohio’s economy and public health. I appreciate the complexity of this situation and know that striking that balance is fraught with problems, exceptions, and exclusions that many will be eager to point out. However, the economy and public health are linked—one cannot thrive without the other. That is why I pushed for Lakewood’s own independent face mask and social distance resolution.

The social distance language in our new resolution requires that businesses, specifically bars and restaurants, have their customers seated, with tables limited to no more than 10 persons. Individuals must maintain six-foot social distancing at all times—even when customers are waiting in line. This will help prevent another quarantine or lockdown.

The mask language in our new resolution requires people to wear masks in Lakewood during any of the following circumstances:
a. In any indoor location that is not a residence, including common areas of apartment buildings and condominiums;
b. When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; or
c. Waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private car service, or a ride sharing vehicle. This does not apply to private or rental vehicles where members of a family are sharing a vehicle.

The resolution requires people in Lakewood to wear masks as long as Governor DeWine’s mandate to wear face coverings remains in effect. “Face covering” includes any material covering an individual’s nose, mouth, and chin. This City of Lakewood resolution also has several exceptions. People in Lakewood are not required to wear a mask under the following circumstances:
a) the individual is under the age of 10;
b) a medical condition, including those with respiratory conditions that restrict breathing, mental health conditions, or disability contraindicates the wearing of a facial covering;
c) the individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
d) the individual is alone or in an enclosed space, such as an office, and which space is not intended for use or access to the public;
e) the individual is actively engaged in exercise in a gym or indoor facility so long as six or more feet of separation between individuals exists;
f) the individual is actively participating in athletic practice, scrimmage, or competition that is permitted under an Ohio Department of Health Order;
g) the individual is actively engaged in a public safety activity, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters or emergency medical personnel;
h) the individual is seated and actively consuming food or beverages in a restaurant or bar;
i) facial coverings are prohibited by law or regulation;
j) facial coverings are in violation of documented industry standards;
k) facial coverings are in violation of a businesses documented safety policies;
l) the individual is actively participating in broadcast communications; or
m) the individual is an officiant of a religious service.

These requirements and exceptions mirror Governor DeWine’s order. The key difference is that Lakewood’s resolution enables Lakewood to better enforce these rules. Without this legislation, the enforcement mechanisms remain with outside governmental entities that are overwhelmed, such as the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office. With the passage of this legislation, our safety forces now have the ability to nuisance a business owner who is not abiding by the Governor’s Order.

For weeks, our Police Department have been proactively checking bars and restaurants during busy hours to ensure compliance with our sole focus being to prevent Lakewood from becoming a COVID-19 hot spot. I want to say clearly to any business ignoring these rules that their behavior hurts all businesses. There are not enough enforcement officers in Cuyahoga County or in Ohio to ensure everyone is following the rules and protecting their neighbors from the spread of this virus. We have to do more to ensure the people of Lakewood are healthy and safe.

Let’s be part of the solution, Lakewood. Wear your mask. Remind your neighbors. Maintain a six-foot social distance. Wash your hands frequently. We will get through this together.

Be well and stay safe.

Volume 16, Issue 16, Posted 4:08 PM, 08.05.2020