The Tahlequah police chief is still taking calls on local businesses and on issues dealing with the citywide face covering ordinance.

On Sept. 11, Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said he had to address three separate mask issues over the week.

"I took two complaints via phone and then one -- I was shopping on my own time in the store, and there was a mask incident inside where a customer was berating an employee that I had to intercede on," King said.

King didn't disclose in which store the incident occurred wherein a customer had become upset at an employee.

"The customer was griping at the employee because his mask had slid down below his nose. I saw the employee when I walked in, and his mask was on properly," King said. "Apparently when he was talking to a customer or something, it slid down below his nose, and there was a customer who was pretty rude about it."

King addressed the public in regard to how officers will enforce the mandate after the Tahlequah City Council voted and passed it in August.

The police chief has stated TPD isn't looking to issue citation or arrest those who don't wear face coverings. He said officers would get involved if disputes or hostilities arose, or if business owners and employees asked for help.

"As far as calls for service, I don't think we've had very many at all. The majority of things we've responded to has actually been someone calling dispatch about a business," King said.

While the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows individuals to claim they are not required to disclose their medical conditions, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn't apply in cases where public health and safety could be compromised.

"People need to remember there are exemptions to this mandate. Just because somebody doesn't have a mask on doesn't mean they're violating it," King said. "That's what I had to explain to the gentleman in the store the other day."

Anyone who meets the medical, mental health, or developmental disability with standards from the Centers for Disease Control is exempt from wearing a mask.

"Sometimes it's not our place to intercede as citizens when it comes to that, as far as patrons go," King said. "That's what I've seen on Facebook - people posting pictures of others in a store [without masks] and they don't know if they have a medical condition or not."

King said he and TPD are continuing to handle calls related to the ordinance as they come in.

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