HAILEY, Idaho — Blaine County passed its face mask resolution policy on Tuesday, where people are expected to wear face masks when in public. On the same day, the city of Hailey passed their resolution, which instead requires its residents to wear face masks, the ordinance went into effect on Wednesday.
Although the county voted not to make masks a requirement, they only have jurisdiction in non-incorporated areas. Towns and cities have adopted the resolution but are allowed to make their own rules or regulations for what they feel are acceptable safety measures.
"We've had a significant impact from the virus. We felt like we're doing exactly what the state leaders are telling us to do in dealing with this, which is enacting the best rules and measures we can to locally address this virus," says city councilor Sam Linnet.
The council decided to make masks a requirement because of how it can benefit the community. It will increase the safety of its residents, limit the spread of the virus, and mainly help keep their economy afloat. Hailey's economy took a massive blow during the early stages of the pandemic. Nearly all businesses were closed and had a significant impact on the community member's livelihood and mental health.
Since the early days of COVID, the city has managed to bounce back and return to semi-normal operations. The ordinance will ensure that everyone will do their part, stay healthy, keep businesses open and that the economy will not be shut down once again.
Despite the ordinance, there remain a few exceptions, "Children under five, those who can't medically tolerate wearing a face covering, people that are hearing impaired, on-duty law enforcement officers where it would create a risk to their work," said Linnet.
Restaurants also fall under the exception, a mask will be required upon entry but can be taken off once people start eating food. In those circumstances, it is expected for all tables to be six feet apart.
The mandate will be enforced by local enforcement; those who violate the order will receive a $100 fine.
The ordinance met some opposition, but many of the residents are glad it is in place, even though there is no specified end date. The community has witnessed what can occur when a severe COVID outbreak occurs and hopes they do not experience a second wave.
Many towns, cities, and other municipalities throughout the state are all experiencing different numbers of confirmed COVID cases. Hailey hopes that other areas around Idaho, especially areas where there are high numbers, take note of the precautions they are taking and perhaps adopt similar policies.