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New County Mask Requirement

On Tuesday, Nov. 24, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Director Stephanie Browning issued Public Health Order 2020-15.1(c), which incorporates a countywide mask mandate that will go into effect at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 8, 2020 unless extended, rescinded or modified.  Under the order, everyone 10 years of age and older that is within Boone County outside of Columbia city limits will be required to wear a mask when around people who are not household members. This is similar to the mask requirement that was put into place within the city limits of Columbia on July 10, 2020. 

The Boone County Commission voted 2-1 to endorse the mandate on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

"The County Commission has great concern for our citizens, our health care professionals and our medical facilities. We are facing issues we have never seen or could have dreamed up.  Everyone needs to do everything they can to protect themselves and the people they come into contact with from the COVID-19 virus. We will eventually be through this but right now is no time to ignore our individual responsibilities," said Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill.

"We appreciate the work our county leaders have done and continue to do to help protect members of our cities, county and entire region. This unified front in our fight to reduce the spread of COVID-19 will not only help protect ourselves and our loved ones, but also our local healthcare and frontline workers" said Browning.

A mask is defined as a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. Masks may be factory-made, or handmade and improvised from ordinary household materials. Household items such as bandanas, towels, t-shirts or any other cotton or linen fabric can be used to make a mask. If choosing to wear a cloth mask, it is recommended that they be made with at least 2 layers of fabric. For example, if a gator is worn it should be folded to ensure two layers of protection.

According to the CDC, data shows that masks protect both the wearer and others from becoming exposed to and infected with COVID-19. Increasing evidence has shown that counties that have implemented a mask mandate have lower levels of COVID-19 transmission than those who do not. For more information on the effectiveness of masks and what type of face masks are recommended, please visit the CDC website

A mask will be required in all instances where it can not be expected to stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of the immediate household. This includes, but is not limited to, at retail establishments, when walking in and out of restaurant and bar establishments, when spectating at a sporting event, etc.

There are exemptions for people who have a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask. Exemptions are also made for people who are hearing impaired and people communicating with individuals who are hearing impaired. Additional exemptions include:

  • While outdoors when able to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others. 
  • While exercising outdoors or when exercising indoors and able to maintain a 6 foot distance.
  • When playing a sport or sporting activity as authorized by the existing Health Order. 
  • When at home with only members of your household. 
  • When in your personal car/vehicle with yourself and/or only members of your household.
  • While eating or drinking when seated at a table in a restaurant or bar (there is no exception to the mask requirement for people who are standing and eating or drinking). 
  • When getting a service that requires the temporary removal of a mask, such as during a dental exam, facial, makeup application, etc. 
  • When the removal of the mask is necessary to confirm identity.
  • When federal or state law prohibits wearing a mask or requires the removal of a mask, such as when going through TSA at the airport. 
  • When requested by a law enforcement officer, medical provider or emergency response personnel.
  • When at your place of work, safely distanced from other people for example, in your office.

Enforcement will be based on findings of routine inspections and following up on complaints. It is recommended that any person who has been convicted of a violation of the mask mandate portion of this Order be sentenced to pay a fine which does not exceed fifteen dollars ($15.00) for an individual and one hundred dollars ($100.00) for a business or nonprofit entity of any kind, with each violation being a separate offense. 

PHHS encourages everyone to review the Order in its entirety. Additional information can be found in the FAQ document or by emailing [email protected] for further questions not yet addressed.

The City of Columbia's current order (2020-15) remains unchanged and in effect until Dec. 8 unless otherwise extended, rescinded or modified.

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