The Brookings City Council has passed a mask requirement for indoor public spaces where six feet of social distancing is not possible. That decision comes after nearly three hours of public comment.
Many opposed to the ordinance cited outdated or limited studies that say masks aren’t effective for mitigating spread of the coronavirus. Many others cited concerns about eroding civil liberties. Attorney Jared Gas called the mandate a line in the sand.
“Masking the healthy for the appeasement of the frightened for the appeasement of the city is no way to run a city! What’s next?"
Others, like Julie Erickson, say previous trauma and health issues can prevent people from wearing a mask. She says her daughter has been harassed for not wearing one.
“We don’t need that kind of division and that kind of behavior in our city. Don’t mandate division, please! It’s already there. Let’s not make it worse.”
Many in favor of the mandate spoke over Zoom, like SDSU professor Sam Smith:
“While I understand the appeal to personal responsibility, when you walk into a public space and pass a virus to a family’s grandparent, aunt, uncle who ends up dying, how are we to hold you responsible for that?”
Several doctors and other healthcare providers also spoke in favor of the mandate, saying current scientific consensus shows masks are effective.
City Council Member Nick Wendell was the first to speak after public comment.
“Mask wearing is not only pro science and pro public health, it is pro economic recovery. So I will support the city-wide mandate for those reasons.”
The 60-day ordinance passed five to two. The council also passed a resolution with several exemptions, including for those with mental health or other conditions.