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Ketchum city council doubles down on health order while gearing up for winter

Posted at 4:42 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 18:42:54-04

KETCHUM, Idaho — The Ketchum City Council approved a new health order with a mask mandate on Monday, October 19, by a vote of 3-1.

In July, Ketchum and the surrounding municipalities in Blaine County issued a mask mandate. This new health order doubles down with the winter tourism season right around the corner.

"Ultimately, this is all a balancing act, it is about keeping our economy going and keeping people safe," said Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw. "This is a time to come together and support each other in every way we can."

According to South Central District Health, Blaine County is currently in the red, which the county is in the critical stage.

The new health order reinforces social distancing, limits indoor gatherings to ten people, outdoor gatherings to 50, it also includes a mask mandate that, if violated, can carry a fine of $100.

"While we can force that sporadically, it's really about people making good choices for themselves, and the best way they can do that is having good information on what causes spread and what doesn't cause spread."

The COVID-19 dashboard is not the only dashboard that matters in this tourist area of Idaho.

"We also need to think about the other legs of the three-legged stool, and that is the economic dashboard and the mental health dashboard," said Mayor Bradshaw. "All of them are equally important."

Mayor Bradshaw pointed out the Sun Valley area citizens have the benefit of sunshine and outdoor space, but he still worries about mental health.

"We have that in abundance, but having said that, I am concerned about the mental health of our community and communities throughout Idaho," said Bradshaw. "This is an incredibly challenging situation."

Sun Valley plans on welcoming tourists this winter, Bradshaw told us the goal for Ketchum is to have those visitors feel welcome, have businesses stay open and have residents feel safe.

But when we asked him what will winter look like in Ketchum? We found out it is too early to tell.

"If you have the crystal ball, please give it to me," said Bradshaw. "We don't know, what we can do is take the information that is out there and make good decisions for ourselves and the people around us obviously, it is a little bit of hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst."

The new health order includes mask exemptions for children under five or for people who have medical conditions that make wearing masks not possible.

There are also exemptions to the gathering limit, including schools, health care facilities, grocery stores, non-profit organizations, government organizations and businesses that implement COVID-19 strategies.