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Board of health meeting to be held regarding mask mandate for City of York

Board of health meeting to be held regarding mask mandate for City of York

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COVID-19

YORK – The York Board of Health will be holding a meeting next Tuesday to discuss the possibility of passing a mask mandate for the City of York.

The board of health is a board within the structure of the city government which consists of the mayor, president of the council, chief of police, the city administrator and the city physician. This board was created many, many years ago and rarely if ever has official meetings to take on official business.

That is going to change next week when the board of health will hold a public emergency meeting at the Holthus Convention Center, on Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m.

The current members of the city’s board of health are Mayor Barry Redfern, Council President Ron Mogul, Chief of Police Ed Tjaden, City Administrator Joe Frei and City Physician Dr. Joe Erwin.

Mayor Redfern explained that a Four Corners Board of Health meeting was held earlier this week and this city board of health meeting is a result of a conversation held during that Four Corners meeting. He said a number of local health professionals were part of that call and the request came from the input of those participants.

The public will be able to attend the meeting – if a large number of people are in attendance, the convention center should provide enough space to socially distance everyone. Also, everyone in attendance is asked to wear a mask.

It is likely health care professionals will be addressing the board during this meeting.

The board of health is going to start with a draft that models what Kearney recently passed. Kearney’s emergency ordinance says that “all individuals five and older shall wear a face covering over their mouth and nose while indoors in a premises that is open to the general public including, but not limited to, educational institutions, unless the individual maintains a minimum of six feet of separate or social distance at all times from anyone who is not a member of the individual’s household.

“Except, face coverings will not be required if the individual:

• Is seeking federal, state or county services;

• Is seated at a bar, restaurant or their seat at an arena to eat or drink, or while immediately consuming food and beverages;

• Is engaged in an occupation preventing the wearing of face covering or;

• Is obtaining a service or purchasing goods or services that requires the temporary removal of the face covering; or

• Is asked to remove a face covering to verify an identity for lawful purposes; or

• Is providing a speech, lecture or broadcast to an audience so long as six feet of distancing from other individuals is maintained; or

• Cannot otherwise wear a face covering because of a medical condition, a mental health condition, or a disability that makes it unreasonable for the individual to wear a face covering.

“Nothing in this section shall prohibit the owner or person in charge of a premises that is open to the general public from requiring an individual to wear a face covering during any of the circumstances enumerated above or from implementing a more restrictive face covering policy.”

The draft also says, “any individual or entity which maintains premises that are open to the general public shall require all individuals five and older to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose while indoors unless the individual maintains a minimum of six feet of separate or social distance at all times from anyone who is not a member of the individual’s household.”

It also adds that it is the responsibility of individuals or entities that maintain premises open to the public to post one or more signs instructing all persons to wear face coverings as required by the mandate.

It also lists what the mandate would not apply to: children under five, individuals at work where masks would create a hazard, individuals alone in a work situation, individuals working behind Plexiglas, officiants at religious services, individuals engaged in activities where their face covering would get wet, individuals who are exercising, musicians while playing music that would be made difficult or impossible by wearing a mask, public safety workers and participants in the process of playing in a sporting event.

The draft says that if someone would fail to comply, it could be considered an infraction which could bring a $25 fine for an initial offense.

Kearney’s mandate expires at 11:59 p.m., on Feb. 23, 2021, “unless otherwise extended by ordinance.” There has been no indication of whether the proposed draft for York would extend that long or longer or for a shorter amount of time.

The draft is only being modeled after Kearney’s at this point – it can be modified as a result of public input and due to the Tuesday night conversation.

Redfern stressed that this is not being initiated by the city as an entity and reiterated that this action would be taken by the city’s board of health and not the council.

For the mandate to pass, it will require a simple majority of the five members to do so.

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