CORONAVIRUS

Provo City Council Overrides Mayor’s Veto On Mask Ordinance

Aug 27, 2020, 6:41 PM | Updated: Aug 28, 2020, 10:36 am

PROVO, Utah – The Provo City Council voted to override Mayor Michelle Kaufusi’s veto on the city’s mask ordinance.

The council met Thursday in a special session to revote on the ordinance. The final vote was 6-1 in favor of overriding the veto.

“We think a mandate will minimize the risk. It will minimize the intensity and maybe frequency of outbreaks,” said George Handley, chair of the Provo City Council. “The fact that the mayor and city council had a strong difference of opinion on this is no indication of any rift in the city leadership.”

It was passed by a unanimous vote by the City Council on Tuesday, and Kaufusi immediately told council members she planned to veto it.

According to the ordinance, face coverings are required “in indoor areas accessible to the public (including businesses and public buildings) wherever social distancing of at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with is not possible.”

Coverings are also required for any indoor gathering with 50 or more people, and at outdoor gatherings with 25 people or more where social distancing is not possible.

The council listed several exemptions in the ordinance, including children under 5 years old, those with medical exemptions that prohibit wearing a mask and for those who are eating or drinking while seated at a restaurant or other food service establishment.

The hot topic of masks has been the focus of three meetings the council has had over the last week. A last-ditch effort to prepare for the return of tens of thousands of students to the city for the start of BYU classes on Monday.

Thursday’s relatively short meeting was a response to Kaufusi’s veto. A letter from the mayor to the city council outlined three reasons why she disagreed with the approach of a mandate.

  1. Not a single major community partner, apart from the City Council, has asked or encouraged her to issue a mask mandate
  2. She doesn’t want to burden the police department with enforcing the mandate
  3. She believes the right path is to treat citizens as trustworthy and compassionate partners

The council voted six to one to override the mayor’s veto after the ordinance passed the council unanimously.

“We were hoping that they would listen to her position but there’s such strong feelings on this one so we knew it might go this way and we can accept that,” said Deputy Mayor Isaac Paxman.

Paxman echoed the mayor’s concern that the mandate could put an unnecessary burden on police officers.

“It’s a tough time for police officers and do we want to have more citizen police encounters that can be messy? Do we want to have them deescalate more situations? Is that the right answer,” Paxman said.

He also reiterated the mayor’s hope that the city would trust its citizens to make the right choice when it comes to wearing face coverings.

“They love to do things out of no compulsion. And the mayor’s really sensitive to that saying, ‘let’s cheer our residents on.’ These are good people who will do the right thing,” he said.

The ordinance requires face masks in public indoor areas and at large gatherings. It carries a $55 fine for individuals and a $500 fine for event organizers not in compliance.

“We need an ordinance to have some sort of teeth in it in order for it to be taken seriously,” Handley said. “At the same time we do not want, nor do I think the administration wants, for this to become an onerous thing where people are getting fined for silly infractions or superficial issues.”

The city council and mayor’s office agree they have the same goal in mind. And both branches of government expressed hope that its citizens would respect one another in this unique environment that has sometimes proven hostile.

“I sure wish at least on the social media side, Provo could kick it up a notch,” Paxman said.

“The real concern that I think I share with [the mayor] is Provo ready for this,” Handley said. “I just hope that the citizens of Provo can rise up to the challenge and meet it with the good spirit of understanding.”

The mandate goes into effect immediately. It will expire on Nov. 14, unless the council makes changes by Oct. 20.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

1 month ago

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

2 months ago

FILE —  Respiratory virus illness activity continues to increase across the US.
(Joe Burbank/Orl...

Emma Benson

‘Not viruses to mess around with’: Experts urge caution during ongoing ‘tripledemic’

Experts say though not as severe as last year, this winter we're seeing another "tripledemic" – rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV in Utah.

3 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Emma Benson

‘The ICUs are full:’ Keep yourself and others healthy this holiday

It's time for holiday gatherings, but with more people around us comes a greater risk of getting sick.

4 months ago

Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

5 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Associated Press

More free COVID-19 tests from the government are available for home delivery through the mail

Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests online for home delivery.

5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Provo City Council Overrides Mayor’s Veto On Mask Ordinance