COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The mask mandate for the city of Columbus is done.
Columbus City Council voted unanimously Monday afternoon to repeal the mandate requiring masks be worn in all indoor public spaces, and it was immediately signed by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.
The move follows both Franklin County removing its mask advisory and Columbus City Schools repealing its mandate last week.
Even with the mandate repealed, businesses can still make their own decisions on whether to require masks.
Council also wanted to remind residents that masks are still an option and that they can continue wearing one when they feel the need to.
“We encourage people to still wear masks,” Councilmember Shayla Favor said. “Look, I’m gonna wear my mask when I’m in highly populated places because that’s just the level of comfortability I feel I need to move forward. “
Ginther’s office issued the following statement after the mayor signed the ordinance:
“I am proud of Columbus residents who fought so hard for so long to beat back COVID-19 in our community. We are encouraged by the declining number of cases and that the burden on our health care professionals and frontline workers has been greatly reduced. Some in our community – including those who are not vaccinated or are immunocompromised – may still want to wear a mask in public, but as of today, that is their personal choice. I implore residents to, above all else, be kind to each other as we navigate the next phase of the pandemic, and to utilize common sense to keep each other healthy – wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick and get vaccinated and boosted. Together, we can put COVID-19 behind us. Our best days are still ahead.”
Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts recommended the move last week as COVID-19 cases in the city, county, and state have all fallen in recent weeks. The CDC has also stated that masks are no longer necessary in areas where the risk to hospitals is low or medium, which includes Columbus, Franklin County, and many counties in central Ohio.
A member of Columbus Public Health spoke at Monday’s meeting, saying Franklin County’s COVID-19 case numbers continue to improve and are near what the CDC would consider low, adding that the health department is comfortable with the repeal.
“While the pandemic is not over, the situation has changed and we are in a new phase of the pandemic,” Favor said. “I bring this legislation forward tonight because I believe this is the right time.”
The mandate, the second in the city, was issued in September 2021.
Columbus first issued a citywide mask mandate in July 2020; that mandate was repealed in June 2021.
Even with the city’s mandate repealed, customers on Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) vehicles are still required to wear a mask due to a federal mask mandate for mass transportation. That order is scheduled to expire on March 18, at which point, masks will be optional.
The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas is also a mask-optional zone.
Starting Tuesday, masks are not required in the courthouse, probation department, or IT offices unless a judge or magistrate requires them in their individual courtrooms or chambers, according to an order issued Monday by Administrative Judge Kimberly Cocroft.
Social distancing will remain in place, according to the order, except in common areas and again, at a judge’s discretion.