McCall City Council voted to pass a mask mandate following Central District Health lifting the mandate in Valley County.
“I’m going to say that discontinuing the mask mandate at this point is rather like a marathon runner running a marathon getting to mile 20, realizing that he’s ahead by 100 yards and deciding to sit down on a park bench and smoke a cigarette,” Dr. Gregory Irvine of St. Lukes said. “We’re not done with this thing yet. There is still a great deal to do to get the virus under control.”
Council Members voiced their opinions on the subject. All were in favor of the order other than Cami Callan.
“I’d like to say that Central District Health did lift the mandate for a reason,” Callan said. “They want people to get back to normal. They understand that it is a very serious issue at hand. But, they’re ready for people to get back to normal. I do believe that every individual has a choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask. And I think they should be able to have that without a penalty.”
Mayor Bob Giles says that the city received 180 comments from the public regarding a new mask mandate. 164 of those comments were in favor of the order.
“I also read a lot of comments that were concerned (that) we’re still in the early stages of the vaccine rollout not everybody’s been able to get it yet,” City Manager Annette Spickard said. “And I read some comments that talked about concern about the new variants. And that they’ve been confirmed in the Boise area and a lot of people travel from Boise up here. So those were the ones that really kind of stood out to me in reading all of that.”
No medical exemption
Chief of Police Justin Williams was at the meeting to talk about the law enforcement section in the new order. There have always been exemptions in previous mandates, such as medical. This mandate does not have a medical exemption. Now, if a person violates the mandate, they are subject to an infraction and a fine of up to $100.
“Throughout this last year, officers have responded to countless numbers of mask violation calls for service,” Williams said. ”Most recently, we’ve had several businesses in which none, literally, not one employee was wearing a mask. When officers responded to the scene and made contact with those employees, the employee stated that they had a quote medical issue and that they were not required to wear a mask. We were unable to do anything about it.”
However, Williams says there is an affirmative defense to prosecution. So if a person has a clinically diagnosed medical excuse that is documented, they can provide that proof to the prosecutor or officer.
“You’re either wearing the mask or not,” Williams said. “It’s much along the same lines as the infraction being issued for an insurance citation. If we stop someone for an insurance citation and they don’t have proof of insurance at that point in time, we issue the citation, they take it to the courts, they show the judge and the judge typically dismisses that.”
The mask mandate is 45 days. More information is available on the city’s website.