Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz on Monday encouraged Seneca County residents to wear masks while out in public amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying it’s “just the smart thing” to do.
“We just need to do what we’re doing. Encourage folks to wear masks when in public, wash their hands. It’s just the smart thing for all of us to do to try to limit the spread until either a vaccine is developed or until we begin to develop immunity ourselves,” Montz said during Tiffin City Council’s regular meeting held virtually via Zoom.
The mayor’s comments came after Councilman Ken Jones, of the Second Ward, asked on behalf of a constituent if the city administration has any plans to mandate mask usage for residents while out in public.
“Nothing has been suggested to me by the health commissioner, who obviously here in Seneca County is the be-all, end-all on health matters. She hasn’t even gotten in touch with me to tell me that we need to do anything mandating masks or anything, so I don’t feel like I can make that determination if she’s not even telling me we need to do that,” Montz said.
“Until Commissioner Schweitzer says we need to do something like that, or even begins to suggest it, I am not in any place right now to be mandating masks in public spaces here in Tiffin or Seneca County,” the mayor added.
Montz applauded Seneca County for doing “much better” than surrounding counties when it comes to keeping positive coronavirus cases relatively low.
“In our immediate vicinity, we certainly are doing a very good job at only 34 cases here in Seneca County, and I believe we only have two or three that are actually active cases right now, and they’re actively sick,” the mayor said.
Councilwoman Dawn Iannantuono said during the meeting that she has been surprised at the number of Tiffin area restaurants not following the Ohio Department of Health’s requirements when it comes to employees wearing face masks.
“Most of them have the barricading up, but two of the ones that I’ve been to, probably in the last ten days, employees aren’t wearing masks. Most of them, the wait staff, is wearing masks. But there were two of them where nobody’s wearing masks,” Iannantuono said.
Montz said that employees of restaurants and bars in Ohio are required to wear masks, and that it’s not optional, per Ohio Department of Health orders.
“One even posted that if you didn’t like the fact they didn’t have masks on, ‘don’t come in,'” Iannantuono added.
The mayor said he’s aware of the local business that posted that message, adding that Seneca County Health Commissioner Beth Schweitzer is considering either filing criminal action against the business or “yanking their ability to operate as a business.”
“We just need cooperation from the businesses,” Montz said. “Businesses must require all employees to wear facial coverings.”
“I would just highly recommend that these businesses are following that, because the health commissioner does have the ability to shut them down, and if they’re found in flagrant violation, she could even consult the Seneca County Prosecutor for criminal charges,” the mayor added. “The last thing that we need here is another shutdown. None of us can afford it, none of us want it, so why those businesses aren’t following those regulations is beyond me.”
Iannantuono said she’s not trying to “call out” anyone or “pick on” them, but she thought it was odd to see employees of some local businesses not following the regulations.