SANDPOINT, Idaho — Sandpoint City Council did not pass a proposed mask mandate at a meeting on Wednesday evening. The vote came 3-2.
According to a memo submitted by city administrator Jennifer Stapleton, Councilwoman Deb Ruehle requested that Sandpoint enact a mask mandate within city limits.
A total of 192 people have contracted COVID-19 in Bonner County, where Sandpoint is located, since the start of the pandemic, according to the Panhandle Health District. Thirty of those cases remain active as of Wednesday and no one has died.
A representative from PHD said at the city council meeting that 154 healthcare workers in North Idaho have contracted COVID-19, with eight of those workers in Bonner County.
The council voted on the ordinance that would have given the mayor authority to issue a public health emergency mandating social distancing and a mask mandate. It is required that the mayor issue the order, as the council as a legislative body cannot do so alone.
Watch the meeting on YouTube below:
Public comment on the proposed mask mandate was not taken during the meeting.
Panhandle Health District's board passed a mask mandate in Kootenai County, home to Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls, in late July. Exceptions include children under two and those with health conditions that prevent them from wearing face masks.
The mandate prompted backlash from both residents and local officials, with some Kootenai County commissioners scrutinizing the health board's decision.
A representative from PHD said during the Sandpoint City Council meeting on Wednesday that it's "too early to tell” how successful the mask mandate has been in Kootenai County.
Mask mandates are also in place for other Idaho cities. In Kellogg, those who don't wear a mask in public when social distancing is not possible face a $100 fine.
There are exemptions to the order, including those for children under the age of 5; people who cannot "medically tolerate" wearing a face mask; those who are hearing impaired; people, including law enforcement officers, for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work; people eating or drinking at a restaurant or other establishment as long as six feet of physical distancing is possible; people in outdoor spaces where physical distancing is possible; and people exercising indoors while physically distancing themselves.
The mayor of Moscow, Idaho, also required the use of face masks beginning Thursday, July 2.
Under Mayor Bill Lambert's order, every person in Moscow must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth in any indoor or outdoor public setting where six feet of physical distancing is not possible.
Any person who "knowingly violates" provisions of the order may be charged with a misdemeanor. The maximum penalties are up to six months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.