Memphis City Council passes facial covering ordinance in 9-4 vote

Coronavirus

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A new ordinance passed by Memphis City Council on Tuesday night will require Memphians to wear facial coverings.

The ordinance says people will be required to wear facial coverings in businesses and public spaces within the city limits during public health emergencies. This does not require masks for places outside of the city limits.

During the meeting, council say the top priority was keeping Memphians safe.

Medical experts, lead by Councilman Dr. Jeff Warren, said the status quo wasn’t working anymore.

“I think as a city we need to pass this face covering ordinance in such a way that other people will follow us and we can save lives,” Dr. Warren said. “I think this is gonna save the economy, too.”

“We have done the highly suggestive part for a number of weeks and months,” Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Manoj Jain said. “In all honesty, it has not worked.”

Multiple council members voiced concerns about how to enforce and penalize Memphians that do not take the new ordinance seriously.

“I just cannot get to the point of mandating it and making it a misdemeanor,” Councilman Ford Canale said.

The ordinance passed with a vote of nine in favor and four against after over an hour of debating.

For now, residents will be issues warnings with potential for small fines or community service hours if necessary.

The ordinance will not take effect immediately. Mayor Jim Strickland still has to sign it in order for it to be official.

This is a developing story. WREG will provide updates.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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