Provo City Council passes mask mandate

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The Provo City Council voted 6-1 to override Mayor Kaufusi’s veto pass an ordinance mandating masks in a special meeting Thursday night.

The Provo City Council voted 6-1 in a special meeting Thursday, Aug. 27 night to override Mayor Michelle Kaufusi’s veto to pass an ordinance mandating masks.

The ordinance was passed unanimously by the council Tuesday, Aug. 25, but Mayor Kaufusi vetoed the ordinance Thursday.

Council Chair George Handley emphasized that the difference in opinion has not changed the relationship between the council and the mayor.

“I want to make it clear to the public that this is not a rift in the city leadership,” he said. “We know and trust and respect each other, and as she said the other night, we are unified in our desire to minimize risk and promote the health and safety of this community during the pandemic.”

The ordinance requires individuals to wear face masks in public indoor areas where social distancing is not possible, at indoor public gatherings of more than 50 people — whether or not social distancing is possible — and at outdoor public gatherings of more than 25 people where social distancing is not possible.

Additionally, organizers of public gatherings of more than 50 individuals are required to “provide clear notice” at public entrances of these requirements, and all attendees must wear face coverings.

Violations of the ordinance will be civil infractions. Individual offenders will be fined $55 and organizers of large events who fail to require masks and provide notices at public entrances will be fined $500.

The Provo City Council listed a number of exemptions to the ordinance, including children under 5 years old and those who have medical or mental health conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.

Handley expressed his disappointment with the anger that has been directed toward Kaufusi and the City Council and called upon Provo citizens to be respectful during this time.

“My plea is that we can all commit to ongoing civil dialogue to show kindness, patience and forbearance — I think under the conditions of this pandemic it’s more important than ever — and that we will all do our honest best to follow the health guidelines without fear, anger or division getting in the way,” he said.

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