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Columbus To Require Masks In Publicly Accessible Indoor Spaces

Mayor Andrew Ginther tours the Greater Columbus Convention Center in the spring of 2020.
Greater Columbus Convention Center
Mayor Andrew Ginther tours the Greater Columbus Convention Center in the spring of 2020.

Updated, September 8, 2021, 4:52 p.m.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther is set to issue an executive order to require face masks to be worn in publicly accessible indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate will exclude federal, state and religious buildings.

The mandate was enacted due to the surge in cases and hospitalizations due to the delta variant of COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Franklin County currently has a 9.36% seven-day COVID positivity rate.

Ginther said additional details on the executive order, which will be signed on Friday, will be released in the coming days. The mayor also said he will work with Columbus City Council to turn the executive order into an ordinance when they return to work next week.

The mask mandate is being implemented to keep schools open, help the economy and help ease the burden on healthcare professionals, Ginther said.

"We need to mask up, band together and bring down the number of infections and hospitalizations. We cannot be discouraged or deterred. We are taking full advantage of knowledge and resources that are safe, effective and accessible," the mayor said.

Columbus health commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said last week, there were 2,500 cases in the community. She added a reminder that even those who are asymptomatic with COVID can still spread the virus, affecting all but especially those who may be immunocompromised.

"The bottom line is that we have to use every tool we have in the toolbox to help us combat this pandemic,” she said. “We know what they are: get vaccinated, wear a mask, avoid those large gatherings, especially indoors.”

Ginther said while it’s not ideal to have to wear masks indoors again, it’s for the safety of everyone.

“We’re at a critical place battling this pandemic in this community,” he said. “We all need to step up and do our part to protect ourselves and our neighbors.”

Michael Lee joined WOSU in 2021, but was previously an intern at the station in 2018. He is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where he obtained his master's degree, and an alumnus of Ohio State University. Michael has previously worked as an intern at the Columbus Dispatch and most recently, the Chicago Sun-Times.