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St. Joseph City Council held work session to assess mask mandate

A week after the city’s mask mandate for businesses over 10,000 square feet began, the St. Joseph City Council met for a status update Thursday.

Posted: Jul 17, 2020 9:59 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A week after the city’s mask mandate for businesses over 10,000 square feet began, the St. Joseph City Council met for a status update Thursday.

With so much controversy on masks both in and outside the council, they wanted to put forward an ordinance that makes both sides happy, but the question is, does it?

The first meeting for the city council since enacting a mask ordinance for larger retail spaces gave city leaders the chance to assess how it's going. They shared some of their concerns.

“They’re really upsetting people,'' city councilman PJ Kovac said. “They’ve got signs posted everywhere and they’re afraid they are going to run customers off for good and so what do you say to them.”

The ordinance, originally called a compromise by some on the council, isn't exactly making both sides of the mask debate happy. Those against a mask mandate say it's making things tough for business owners and those for a mandate say this one doesn't go far enough to protect the public.

“We’re not the largest city in the state, but I do think we have enough cases here and enough risk of spreading this that it does warrant having a blanket mandate for masks indoors in public,” city councilman Brian Myers said. “I think what we did last week was probably worse than doing nothing at all because it creates a lot of animosity, it creates a lot of confusion and it upsets the business owners and at the same time, doesn’t really do anything to combat the transmission of the virus, because the safest place to be indoors, according to our doctors, are places that are 10,000 square feet or bigger.”

Speaking of the public, those in support of a mask mandate also shared their views on the ordinance.

One member of the public that spoke during the work session said, “Tell the business owners to suck it up, have everybody wear a mask, it’s not that big of a deal to put it on and when you get to your car, take it off.”

Another resident said, “I applaud you for doing something last week but I really do think we need to have masks and social distancing in our community as we have in other cities across the state.”

City leaders know how controversial masks have become; they admit it's a challenge to find a happy middle ground.

“Everybody’s mad because they don’t want masks, now everybody’s mad because they want nothing but masks and you can’t please them all,” city councilman Kent O’Dell said.

City leaders will meet again next Thursday.

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