TWIN FALLS — Now that vaccines are becoming more available and COVID case numbers, for the most part, are remaining steady, discussions are being had in towns of loosening COVID restrictions. This has expressed some concern from health officials, fearing what could happen if other cities do the same too quickly.
Ketchum had a council meeting yesterday to discuss this topic, focusing on changing their social distancing and gathering size protocols. The city was contemplating removing the 64 sq. ft. space limitation when at a gathering to six feet. The ten-person limit at gatherings would also be removed.
Some of the other changes included gyms not requiring masks when social distancing can be maintained, restrictions on construction sites would be removed, and masks would be recommended in outdoor public settings.
Ultimately the council decided to hold and tabled the proposal. They will review the document at a meeting next month.
“I can certainly understand why people would want to take a closer look at what policies they have and consider whether or not if they are still necessary," said Briana Bodily, spokesperson for the South Central Public District. "Or if they need to be adjusted, to better fit their current situation.”
Blaine County is the main area where heavier restrictions have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. While case numbers are lower than months before, there has been a slight rise in case numbers in that area.
Health officials are encouraging leaders to keep those current precautions in place until numbers go down.
Bodily said, “The health district does not recommend that anybody loosen restrictions especially because of the emergence of the COVID-19 variants in our Blaine County and our Twin Falls County areas. That does indicate that there is a very strong likelihood that there are variants present in all of our communities in this region."
The health district added more time is need to fight off COVID. “To prevent the spread of COVID-19, to get people vaccinated so that we can make sure our summer this year isn’t the same situation we had last year. To make sure our Fall in 2021 isn’t the huge surge in cases we saw in 2020,” said Bodily.