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Blaine County Board of Commissioners pass new restrictions

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Posted at 4:48 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 18:48:27-04

BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho — At a special emergency meeting addressing issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, Blaine County Commissioners passed an ordinance adding local restrictions to the statewide stay-at-home order. The goal of the ordinance is to protect public health by reducing the risks of spreading coronavirus. Commissioners also expressed deep concern about the potential for an overwhelmed health care system, if everything is not done to reduce infection rates.

As justification, the ordinance states, “(S)tricter measures are necessary to respond to the imminent threat posed by the spread of the COVID-19 virus within Blaine County. …(T)hese measures must be enacted on an emergency basis due to the imminent peril posed by the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

“We need to take this step,” said Commissioner Dick Fosbury. All three commissioners acknowledged the new measures will impact residents, workers and businesses throughout the county and cause some anxiety and hardships, at least temporarily. “This is invisible. It’s not a flood where you can see the river rising. It’s not a fire where you can see the spread.”

A heavy stream of comments in support and opposition has come in this week to the County and area cities, which are considering the same restrictions. Commissioner Angenie McCleary cast her vote against the ordinance. She felt alternative measures could be promoted and asserted her fears of unintended consequences and that lower-risk businesses will be punished. “The economic impacts also affect health and mental health,” she said. Commissioners agreed to monitor the impacts of the new measures in the coming weeks. They remain in effect at least through April 12, 2020.

All the provisions of the stay-at-home order remain in effect. If there is a conflict between this local ordinance and the state order, the requirements of Blaine County’s ordinance apply. The ordinance applies to anyone living, working or visiting Blaine County.

The additional local restrictions do the following:

  • Tighten requirements for social distancing
  • Tighten restrictions on non-essential travel outside the county
  • Require out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine; deem residential and commercial construction non-essential
  • Deem landscaping and routine building maintenance and repair non-essential
  • Transportation services like taxis may only serve essential functions
  • Hotel rooms and short-term rentals may not go to non-residents unless unless they are self-isolating, a health care worker or performing essential government functions.