The City of McCall is the latest Idaho government to mandate wearing face coverings in public.
The McCall City Council held a special meeting Wednesday night to consider two options around masks, ahead of the popular Fourth of July weekend. For over nearly 90 minutes, the council debated the ordinance and heard from experts.
Valley County has seen a spike in cases of COVID-19 according to the Central District Health Department. The city is a popular tourist destination, particularly on holiday summer weekends.
It joins Hailey and Moscow in requiring masks in public places. City leaders in McCall said they particularly want to require masks in places like retail businesses where people may be in tight quarters.
Thousands expected to visit
“We’re expecting 20,000 people over the weekend,” McCall Mayor Bob Giles said. “I would urge the council, after all the questions have been asked, to make a decision tonight and not punt on this.”
“There is a huge increase in both Canyon County and Ada County in cases, many of whom do not know they are carrying the virus,” St. Luke’s McCall Medical Director Dr. Gregory Irvine said. “If we can get masks on people who are arriving tomorrow, I do have a sense of urgency, which is why I asked the council to consider this resolution.”
The city’s manager said officials heard from businesses looking for council guidance.
“We have a lot of business that have already required masks in their businesses and have been looking to council for additional support,” McCall city manager Annette Spickard said.
McCall’s police chief said the department would not have the staff to track down violators of the order, but says they could provide education.
“It would be another tool in our toolbox we could use if the situation arises,” McCall Police Chief Justin Williams said. “It’s not something we would send our limited resources out on a search for people violating this order. It is in the best interest of the public that this order is implemented. We urge they respect others in the community and hold their family and friends accountable rather than pushing it off on someone else for enforcement action.”
Two members of the council – Thomas Sowers and council president Colby Nielsen hoped the council would wait until tomorrow to make a decision.
The council voted 4-1 to approve the ordinance. It goes into effect Thursday, July 2 at midnight. Violators could face an infraction and $100 fine. Sowers was the only dissenting vote.
McCall will carve out a number of exemptions to the order.
- Kids under five
- People who can’t ‘medically tolerate’ a face covering
- Those who are hearing impaired
- Those whose job duties would be impaired by wearing a mask – including police
- Eating or drinking in public as long as people can stay six feet away from those outside their home
- Outdoors where social distance is possible
- Indoor exercise if people can socially distance
BoiseDev reporter Anna Daly Gamboa contributed to this report.