BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho — The Blaine County Commissioner's office passed a resolution on Tuesday to establish standards for covering one's face while out in public.
Instead of creating a policy requiring people to wear a face mask, people are expected to do so and to cover their face and nose entirely when in an area where social distancing cannot be followed.
Blaine County was the hotspot for COVID in the Magic Valley for the earlier stages of the pandemic, and leaders have been discussing enhancing safety measures for quite some time. The recent uptick in cases throughout the state and the growing number of tourists to area sped up conversations on what they could correctly do.
"As we see more cases pop up around Idaho and around the country, there is great concern from all of our residents, particularly if they see the tourists come into town and potentially bring in another wave," says Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw.
Since the CDC, IHD, and the state encourage the usage of face masks, the county and the other towns and cities agreed that would be the best place to start. Although the county has passed the resolution, it does not have jurisdiction in other cities or municipalities. It only covers the unincorporated parts of the county.
Still, the county and municipalities have been working together to find one joint resolution.
"I think it will be confusing for people if we all have different resolutions. So we have been working together, collaborating together, to come up with a resolution that we can put in front of the different elected officials and hopefully all adopt," said Bradshaw.
Towns will be following the resolution but can still adopt their own rules and regulations if they so choose. Local businesses also can decide as to how they wish to enforce face mask policies, especially since part of the initiative for wearing face masks helps the local economy and ensures businesses can remain open.
"A lot of this has to do with supporting our local businesses, and they are at risk, they are in jeopardy, the patrons are in jeopardy if they are not following social distancing guidelines, hygiene guidelines and wearing masks," said Blaine County Chairman Jacob Greenberg.
While the resolution is for public settings, there are circumstances where it would not apply. A few examples: participating in recreational activities or exercise, people with pre-existing medical conditions that make it so that they cannot wear face masks, and eating at a restaurant where social distancing and proper hygiene are in place.
For further detail about what is acceptable and what is not, click here.
The resolution is in effect for the county through August 31st. Other cities will vote on the resolution at their next respective council meetings.