YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio — The village of Yellow Springs has declared a “COVID State of Emergency.”
The village council passed the resolution declaring the emergency Monday, Aug. 9 by way of a 3-1 vote, with one absence. The resolution says the council made the decision because of the "impact of the delta variant" and the rise in positive cases within Greene County among vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals.
According to the order, everyone 2 and older must wear a mask or facial covering in all indoor public areas within village limits. That includes businesses and government facilities.
Masks are also required outdoors if 6 feet of social distancing is not possible. All "public outdoor and vendor areas and/or streets on or within the village’s central business district” are included in the order as well.
The village council indicated that the rules are in effect for everyone 2 years old and older, regardless of vaccination status.
The resolution reads in part:
"This resolution is hereby declared to be an emergency measure under home rule power granted by the Village Charter and immediately necessary to preserve the public interest and for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of and visitors to the Village."
The decision by Yellow Springs comes a few days after health officials in Columbus, Ohio, told members of the media that they could issue little more than a "mask advisory" due to a new law passed in March by the Ohio General Assembly.
State Senate Bill 22 (SB 22) forbids health departments in Ohio from issuing blanket health mandates among people not diagnosed with any disease.
“This is an advisory. It’s not an order and it’s not a mandate,” Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said at a news conference, according to the Ohio Capital Journal. “The reason why it’s not an order or a mandate is because of state Senate Bill 22, which prohibits us from doing any order that would be a blanket order to the whole population.”
Unlike in Columbus, the Yellow Springs order was issued by its legislative body, not a health department.
Spectrum News reached out to the village and Green County officials about SB 22 and its potential legal impact on the enforcement of the Yellow Springs mandate. They have not yet responded.
All government buildings and offices in Yellow Springs will remain open for the time being under the new safety protocols. But council, planning commission and BZA meetings are going virtual until further notice.
The emergency order will remain in effect until Green County's transmission rate drops below "High" or "Substantial" on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scale, per the order. The village will make the decision based on the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 cases reported, according to resolution.
The village said it will "continue to support local businesses as they encourage the safety of both employees, and patrons through the use of masks and physical distancing."
The release states that public hand-sanitizer stations will be replaced and restocked. They'll also consider the need to distribute of protective masks in high-traffic areas per the release.
More information is available on the Yellow Springs website.
Aug. 12 Editor’s Note: An original version of this story said Senate Bill 22 passed this summer. SB 22 passed in March and took effect in summer.