City Council member responds to concerns over possible mask requirement in Columbia

3 months 1 day 2 hours ago Wednesday, July 01 2020 Jul 1, 2020 Wednesday, July 01, 2020 4:12:00 AM CDT July 01, 2020 in News
By: Kathryn Merck, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA- Following Columbia Mayor Brian Treece's Tweet on Friday, many Columbia residents are asking questions about how a possible mandate would be enforced in the city.

Today I asked the City Manager to have an ordinance drafted to require masks in all public settings. With rising cases of coronavirus, this is a responsible & simple public health initiative to curb the spread of COVID-19, protect public health and keep our economy open.

— Brian Treece (@BNTreece) June 26, 2020

This proposal for a mask mandate follows recommendations from the CDC. The CDC recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people. Other cities and states across the county are giving residents fines, citations and other penalties if they refuse to follow the mask rule. 

"I think it's a good idea to bring the conversation forward," said Betsy Peters, Ward 6 Council member.  "We've heard a lot from many people about masks, and I think it's a reasonable thing to discuss."

KOMU 8's Facebook posts about the possible mandate currently have hundreds of comments asking how council is planning to enforce masks. 

"Certainly since that Tweet has come out, there's been a lot of discussion," said Peters. 

One concern many Columbia residents have voiced is getting fined for not wearing masks in public. 

"I don't think our police officers are going to go around giving fines," said Peters. "But I do think there is a chance for something about fines to be in the ordinance."

Peters says she thinks the most effective way people will wear masks is through personal accountability.

"I think peer pressure is the best way to enforce wearing masks," said Peters.

She thinks if people see others wearing masks, they will see it is the right thing to do.

"I think that would be a better way to push people to do the right think than a fine," said Peters. 

The CDC says cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. However, many people have voiced that they refuse to wear masks, even if the city will enforce the rule.

"I expect this ordinance will not say that people have to wear a mask outside," said Peters. "If you don't want to wear a mask, then don't go into establishments where they need to wear a mask."

The goal is to have the ordinance completed by the City Council meeting on July 6.

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