The city of Stillwater, Oklahoma just eased up on requirements to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials don’t apologize for it, but say it became too much to handle because store employees have been threatened.
“I am not the kind of person who backs down from bullies, but I also will not send someone else to fight the battle for me,” Mayor Will Joyce wrote in a tweet Friday. “I issued a revised order this afternoon to correct this problem, and we will continue to reevaluate our approach to face coverings.”
A proclamation issued Thursday moved for the reopening of “non-essential” businesses. This was in part contingent on customers being told to wear masks while inside the premises, Well, city officials now report a spate of hostile blowblack.
“I knew there would be some objections, but I did not expect physical confrontations with employees and threatening phone calls to city hall,” Joyce wrote. “I hate that our businesses and their employees had to deal with abuse today, and I apologize for putting them in that position.”
But we had a bit of false start today on face coverings. Masks are an easy and effective way to slow the spread and keep our recovery stays on track. It’s a tricky issue, not because a mask rule is unconstitutional (it’s clearly not), but because it’s so difficult to enforce.
— Mayor Will Joyce #StayHomeStillwater (@stillwaterwill) May 1, 2020
City Manager Norman McNickle said one incident included the threat of gun use.
“In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse,” he said in a statement. “In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm. This has occurred in three short hours and in the face of clear medical evidence that face coverings helps contain the spread of COVID-19.”
McNickle said people were put in danger.
“We cannot, in clear conscience, put our local business community in harm’s way, nor can the police be everywhere,” the city manager wrote. “Accordingly, we will now be asking our local stores and business to encourage, but not require, patrons to cover their faces. Of course, each business can choose to adopt a more stringent approach, and we ask everyone to respect and abide by such decisions.”
[Screengrab via Oklahoma State Athletics]
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