February 19, 2021

2020–2021 City Council: Linda Leeuwrik, Rick Cheatum, Roger Bray, Claudia Ortega (back row); Heidi Adamson, Brian Blad, Chris Stevens (front row) (Photo Credit: City of Pocatello)

Members of the Pocatello City Council disappointed local residents who have been attending City Council meetings calling for the face mask ordinance to be rescinded last night, voting 4-2 to continue the ordinance until at least March 4.  The vote to continue the mask ordinance happened despite the opposition of about three dozen residents who were present both in and outside of the meeting room (in-room attendance was limited).

At their last meeting it looked as if the ordinance to wear masks under threat of penalty would be coming to an end, as the City Council had voted to prepare a new ordinance rescinding the mask mandate ordinance.  Disappointment was evident last night and this morning, as residents opposed to the mask ordinance expressed their unhappiness with the decision in person and on social media.  A typical comment read, “So why did they bother preparing the ordinance???”

Councilmembers Adamson and Cheatum voted to rescind the ordinance, while Councilmembers Bray, Leeuwrik, Ortega, and Stevens voted to keep it in place.

The City of Pocatello released the following statement last night regarding the vote:

Face Covering Ordinance Left in Place by Pocatello City Council

Thursday, the Pocatello City Council voted against rescinding the City’s face covering ordinance.  The ordinance will remain in place and be revisited on March 4.

Under the ordinance, “every person shall, when in any indoor or outdoor public place, completely cover their nose and mouth when members of the public are physically present for otherwise unprotected social interaction with persons other than household members.”

Exceptions are provided for:

  • Children under the age of 5.
  • Persons who cannot medically tolerate wearing a face covering.  A person is not required to provide documentation demonstrating that the person cannot medically tolerate wearing a face covering.
  • Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons, including on-duty law-enforcement officers, for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose, face, or head for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Persons who are eating or drinking at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, so long as the person is able to maintain social distancing, as recommended by the CDC, from persons who are not members of the same household or party as the person.
  • Persons who are incarcerated.
  • Patrons of gyms so long as the gym is following a plan approved by the local health district.
  • Outdoor and/or indoor public places where people can maintain social distancing as recommended by the CDC.

A list of frequently asked questions about the ordinance is available at bit.ly/2VXMoc1.

 

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