Logan Mayor Holly Daines is asking for a mask mandate for the city, but the reaction has been mixed, from both Cache County Council members and citizens.
“This is the critical period with students going back to school, and with university students coming back to town, you know, who are coming from out of state and other places, this is a way to help protect our community,” Daines said.
The governor mandated masks in all K-12 schools, and Utah State University has instituted a similar rule for its campus. Logan Municipal Councilmember Amy Anderson said having a citywide mandate would prevent sending a “mixed message” to students.
Councilmember Tom Jensen said he is supportive of the measure but is concerned whether the rest of the county would not jump on board, and Jess Bradfield — the only councilmember against the mandate — said he wants to avoid a situation similar to the city’s plastic bag ban earlier this year (which has yet to go into effect).
“My goal is to work out a compromise between the city and the county,” Bradfield said. “I don’t like the division that’s taken place. This has become a political issue.”
Bradfield also wondered if there could be a compromise along with the mandate, such as moving the county from “yellow” to “green.”
“If we can get to green, you can put me in a straight jacket,” he said at the meeting. “I would like to be with some people again, in bigger crowds.”
But a countywide mask mandate is unlikely, according to multiple County Council members.
Cache County Councilmember Gina Worthen cited concern over a Park City incident where an unmasked woman was attacked by a fellow shopper at the Kimball Junction Walmart.
“It’s concerning to me that we’ve gotten to that level,” she said. “I believe physical distancing of course is better, but I think you teach people, you give people the right information and trust them to do the right thing. A mandate doesn’t fit into that.”
Worthen said she prefers encouraging mask wearing to mandating it and said the low numbers in Cache County are proof “people here are working hard to do their best to be careful with this virus.”
Several locals have disagreed, like Dan Durham, who doesn’t trust the Cache Council’s decisions based on “the council’s ignorance and plea to ‘go green’ just weeks earlier.”
“I believe, based on generations of common practice and science, a state mandate for public gatherings and where distancing is impractical is needed,” he said.
Multiple Logan residents thanked the mayor and councilmembers for supporting the mandate, including Chase Anderson, who said in a Facebook post “This is the only way I see a safe transition to a fall semester when we resume classes.”
Cache County Councilmember Gordon Zilles said he’s received comments from both sides but ultimately thinks the numbers in Cache County don’t warrant a mandate.
“It seems like overkill,” he said. “If you can’t distance, if you’re gonna be out among a lot of people, I can see the benefit of the mask, but mandated that you have to wear a mask everywhere? I see people riding their bicycle down the road with a mask on, but I live out in the country, where you are just miles away from other people.”
In Tuesday’s Logan Municipal Council meeting, Daines clarified a mask would not be required to be worn in every circumstance.
“If you are in a building, in your own personal workspace which allows you to social distance, you do not have to wear a mask,” she said. “If you go out into common spaces, to elevators, to hallways, you do need to have a mask. If you go outside, you should have one available in case you come into contact with people that are outside and you can’t social distance.”
Councilmember Mark Anderson said he supports sending the message that residents should wear masks but was concerned about enforcement. Daines said no tickets would be handed out for those not wearing a mask without a valid medical exemption, but officers would have an “education conversation ... We’re not going to be throwing people in jail.”
Daines has drafted the letter and plans to submit it on Thursday to the Bear River Health Department, who will then send it to the state for consideration. The governor’s committee meets on Tuesday mornings, and then it would go to the governor to decide whether to approve the request for a citywide mandate or not.