• Dave McGuire

Mandatory Masks in Clarksville?

The Clarksvillian

Could mandatory masks be a part of Clarksville’s future? Nashville's decision to require mandatory public masks raises significant questions for other Middle Tennessee communities. Across the country, several states have mandated the use of masks and face coverings in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is compounded by individual cities around the country creating their own same mandatory requirements.

Tennessee has been one of the safest states with regards to Covid19 infection and mortality rates with the Clarksville area experiencing an even lesser impact from the virus. That safer impact may be linked to the average age of Montgomery County residents. Yes, we're the youngest county in the state by average. And, conveniently enough, Hopkinsville's Christian County is the youngest county in Kentucky. Nonetheless, will the uniqueness of Clarksville’s population still result in a public mandatory mask wearing?

Our military population, both active and discharged, are a highly transient group for multiple reasons whether professional or personal. We also have a significant daily commuting population to Nashville that includes thousands of people. With the city of Nashville now requiring mandatory public masks, will their change of policy force a change to Clarksville's policy? As we consider the possibility of a local mask policy it is helpful to review the requirements of other cities and states.

General Public Mandates

Requirements for all on masks in public, there will be a legal requirement that prohibits people from entering a place of business — either indoors or outdoors — without first donning a mask.

· Children 2-5 years old must have reasonable effort to wear masks when required

· People 6 years and older must wear masks covering their mouth and nose in public spaces

(where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained)

· All public transportation riders and operators must wear a mask

· All employees in public spaces (such as restaurants or stores) must wear masks

Regulations do not typically apply inside homes and include exemptions for specific activities to include:

· While eating and drinking in a restaurant

· While walking or exercising outdoors (still maintaining 6’ social distancing)

· While in personal vehicles, offices or other spaces that may be personal

· For people with medical conditions that prohibit them from safely wearing a face covering

There are exemptions for deaf individuals or those experience hearing loss. People engaged in recreational activities with household members would also be exempt from mandatory masks. These same groups of people would not be required to wear masks provided proper social distancing is maintained in restaurants.

One of the more curious aspects to the mandatory mask debate is enforcement measures. Will non-compliance result in fines and/or arrests? How long will the requirements be in place.

There are several remaining questions in need of answering as the potential mandatory mask policy moves closer to implementation. The question most residents are wanting to understand involves the scientific criteria and debate information as they relate to the area’s density and demographics.

It’s safe to assume we’re already on the clock for this discussion.