Provo Mayor Expected To Veto Mask Mandate

Aug 26, 2020, 8:09 PM | Updated: Aug 27, 2020, 8:51 am

PROVO, Utah – Provo residents have been waiting for final word on whether or not they’ll be required by the city to wear face masks in public.

The City Council approved a mask mandate, which Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said she planned to veto.

Deputy Mayor Isaac Paxman said they got the mandate on their desks Wednesday morning. They planned to send the veto on the mandate back to the City Council by Thursday and hoped the council would reconsider their decision.

“She is trying to be respectful of the City Council, by vetoing it as quickly as possible,” Paxman said.

He said the mayor supports wearing masks in public, but feels enforcing a mandate will overwhelm the Provo City Police Department.

“Mayor Kaufusi is not saying don’t wear a mask. She’s opposed to turning this into a hassle for law enforcement officers who don’t want this. The police chief does not want this,” Paxman said.

He said they’ve heard from other local and business leaders opposing a mask mandate, with the majority of calls to their office also against it.

“She feels strongly about this, so she is going to exercise her authority to play her role, recognizing they have full authority to play their role,” Paxman said.

City Council Chair George Handley said that 73 percent of those who submitted commentary to City Hall were in favor of mandating that masks be worn in public. They felt a mandate could help slow community spread of COVID-19 with the influx of college students coming in.

“We don’t want it to be something that is onerous. We don’t want it to criminalize anybody. We simply recognize that studies have shown that mask ordinances save lives. They motivate people,” Handley said.

He said he expected the council would vote to override the mayor’s veto.

“Given the fact that it was a 7-0 vote, that clearly signals how we feel about it,” Handley said.

They wanted to have something in place before BYU students return to class. Many have already moved in to on-campus and off-campus housing.

Community members who talked to KSL-TV had mixed feelings about the mandate.

“We’re saying, just put the cloth thing in front of your face, this isn’t asking a ton of people,” said Brigham Daniels, who was in favor of a mask mandate.

“If they try to mandate it, they are overriding my agency and my right to choose,” said Hailey Petrich, who was against the mandate.

Both Daniels and Petrich live in Provo and both felt strongly about the mandate.

“Nowhere in the constitution is telling the government that they can take care of our health. That is a very personal decision,” Petrich said.

Daniels teaches at BYU and said he was in favor of the mandate, arguing that it would help prevent a campus outbreak.

“I understand that a lot of people feel this is infringing on their liberties, but if you decide to live in an organized community, you have to live with some infringements on your liberty,” Daniels said. “If it was only you that could get sick, fine – but if it’s you causing community spread, the community has… I think that we have an obligation to protect the community.”

“We want to keep everything open. We want to keep BYU open, the public schools open, the businesses open,” Handley said. “As we examined this more and more closely, it became more alarming to us that there was a very high likelihood of an outbreak.”

Handley argued that mandates are more effective in mitigating community spread more than recommendations to do so.

Officials from BYU and Utah Valley University said their requirement for students to wear masks on campus won’t change.

Handley sent KSL these Frequently Asked Questions about the mandate:

Where are face coverings required?

  • Indoor areas accessible to the public (including businesses and City buildings) 
    • Wherever social distancing of at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with is not possible 
    • Gatherings of more than 50 people regardless of whether social distancing is possible
  • Outdoor areas accessible to the public
    • Gatherings of more than 25 people where social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible
  • Face coverings are not required in private spaces, such as homes.

What are the requirements for face coverings?

  • Face coverings must completely cover the nose and mouth.

What are the requirements for business?

  • All businesses open to the public where social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible or where there will be a gathering of more than 50 people indoors (or more than 25 people outdoors) must post in a clearly visible location a notice that face coverings are required by law.

What are the requirements for event organizers?

  • It is illegal to organize or promote a public gathering indoors of more than 50 people or outdoors of more than 25 people without requiring attendees to wear face coverings
  • It is illegal to organize an indoor public gathering of more than 50 people and not provide clear noticing about the face covering requirement at the entrances

What are the consequences for violations?

  • Violation of the mandate is a civil infraction (not a criminal offense)
  • The maximum fine for a violation is $55.00
    • A public gathering organizer that violates the rules for organizing such a gathering could be subject to a maximum fine of $500.00

Who is exempt?

  • Children under the age of 5
  • Individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering
  • Individuals engaging in strenuous physical activity where circumstances are not reasonably conducive to wearing a face covering, such as swimming, running, fitness classes, etc.
  • Individuals who are eating or drinking while seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service
  • Individuals who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service
  • Individuals who are hearing impaired, or communicating with an individual who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
  • Individuals who are purchasing a product or receiving a service that requires identification may briefly remove a face covering as necessary
  • Individuals for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the individual related to their work, as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines

When does the mandate end?

  • The mandate expires on Nov. 15 unless the council renews it by Oct. 20.

BYU’s mask requirements

UVU’s mask requirements and protective measures.

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Provo Mayor Expected To Veto Mask Mandate