City of Norman sued over mask mandate inside private homes

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The leader of a group that tried to recall the mayor of Norman and three city councilors is suing the city over an ordinance requiring masks be worn in private homes if more than 25 people are present.



FILE - In this June 9, 2020 file photo, Norman Mayor Breea Clark listens during a city council meeting in Norman, Okla. The Norman City Council has voted to require masks be worn inside personal homes if more than 25 people are present in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The council voted 5-3 Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2020, for the ordinance that takes effect immediately and expires Nov. 30, 2020, despite objections from residents that such a requirement violates their constitutional rights. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki File)


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FILE – In this June 9, 2020 file photo, Norman Mayor Breea Clark listens during a city council meeting in Norman, Okla. The Norman City Council has voted to require masks be worn inside personal homes if more than 25 people are present in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The council voted 5-3 Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2020, for the ordinance that takes effect immediately and expires Nov. 30, 2020, despite objections from residents that such a requirement violates their constitutional rights. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki File)

The lawsuit filed Thursday by Unite Norman co-founder Sassan Moghadam alleges the Sept. 22 ordinance violates Oklahoma’s constitutional right to due process.

“For the mayor and the city council to suggest that they could barge in on any Bible study, private home, family gathering or event, is a complete overreach far beyond their authority,” Moghadam said in a statement.

A statement from the city called the ordinance a temporary and reasonable way to protect public health and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“It was never intended that police would come into private homes to ensure masks are being worn. The focus of the ordinance and its enforcement is these large nuisance parties that are potential super-spreaders in our community,” the statement read.

Unite Norman earlier this year sought recall elections for Mayor Breea Clark and three council members because of the council’s decision to reallocate $865,000 of the police department’s budget into community development programs and to create an internal auditor position to track police overtime spending.

The group collected enough valid signatures to only force a recall election for Council member Alison Patrone.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Friday reported 89,559 virus cases and 1,044 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, increases of 1,190 cases and nine deaths from Thursday.

The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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