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Boise will now mandate facemasks in public, Meridian considering it

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COVID-19 Idaho

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said she would add Boise to the list of Idaho cities that will mandate face coverings in public.

McLean said due to a “significant increase in confirmed case of COVID-19,” she will sign a public health order mandating masks in public starting Friday night/Saturday morning at 12:01am.

“It requires everyone to use face coverings in the City of Boise,” she wrote in a statement. “Coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are now required in all indoor and outdoor public places. There will be a few exceptions for children under the age of 5, on-duty first responders, or those with health or communication concerns.”

Boise city council president Elaine Clegg praised the decision.

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“Wearing masks has turned out to be very successful at halting the spread of the coronavirus if everyone is on board. It’s an incredibly simple, cheap, and effective intervention,” said Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg. “It works for individuals, but more importantly for communities; wear a mask for the people you want to protect, wear a mask for the businesses you want to see open. Wearing a mask will give you freedom to go more places sooner. Together we can keep ourselves and our economy healthy.”

Exemptions, penalties

In a copy of the public health order posted online, the exemptions match those employed in McCall:

  • Kids under five
  • People who can’t ‘medically tolerate’ a face covering. Documentation is not required
  • 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
  • People receiving a personal service involving nose, face or head where the removal of the face-covering is needed.
  • Outdoors where social distance is possible
  • Indoor exercise if people can socially distance

[First-person account: I got COVID in Boise. I’m fine, but here’s what I went through]

The mayor’s news release also included supportive statements from council pro-tem Holli Woodings, Micron EVP Scott DeBoer and Bacon restaurant owner John Berryhill.

“We must all do our part in protecting our entire community,” McLean said. “The science is behind us that the wearing of face coverings, in addition to keeping a six-foot distance from those not in your immediate family, keeping hands and surfaces clean and staying home when you’re sick are effective in slowing the spread of the virus.”

Boise said it will distribute free masks on Friday from 11am-1pm at the Boise Depot as well as City Hall West. Drive up service will allow residents to pick up up to six masks per household.

The city’s health order said that violating the order would be a misdemeanor: “any person who knowingly violates the provisions of this Emergency Order No. 20-10 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”

“We do remain focused on education first and foremost and are hopeful local residents and businesses will comply for the health of the entire community,” City of Boise Communication Director Karen Boe told BoiseDev.

More Idaho cities requiring masks

Boise joins several other cities, including McCall, Hailey and Moscow in mandating masks in public.

Meridian Mayor Robert Simison said during a video message earlier today that the city also could require face masks in public if the number of new COVID-19 cases does not decrease.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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