Tulsa Department of Health inspectors can now enforce restaurants, bars, and other places to follow city ordinances when it comes to keeping people safe from COVID-19. This includes, for example, wearing a mask and being two meters away.
The Tulsa Health Department said it was getting new complaints about public places that do not meet city ordinances. The health department will be getting help from the city inspectors to work on enforcement.
“We heard from the community that our mask ordinance feels like it has no teeth, it is unenforceable,” District 7 councilor Lori Decter Wright said at the council meeting on Tuesday evening.
The city divides public spaces into two categories: public accommodation and public facilities. The list is extensive, but some examples include: gyms, event centers, retail and department stores, movie theaters, offices, and places of worship.
The city said worship is in law as long as worshipers wear masks and are physically far away. If a place of worship expects 150 or more people, the place of worship must submit a safety plan.
“So that it really gets to be clear to everyone in the community. It’s not a suggestion. It’s actually required,” said Decter Wright.
Once an inspector comes out, the Tulsa Health Department said it would issue a warning and make recommendations if a company fails to meet the requirements.
If the complaints persist, DeBrena Hilton, chief of food protection for the Tulsa Department of Health, said a quote may be issued.
From there, a local business owner or agent who issued a quote would go before a judge and face a $ 1,200 fine and / or six month sentence under the city’s Public Harassment Act.
Another part of the workload for the health department: Starting December 11, events or gatherings with 150 or more guests must present a COVID safety plan for review and guidance. The city had previously required events and gatherings of 500 or more guests to come up with a security plan.
“I would imagine that we would have to bring in a few more people to do the paperwork,” said Hilton.
Anyone can file a complaint with the health department, which can be done anonymously by clicking here.
For more information on current activities in the city of Tulsa, click here.