LOGAN – While Salt Lake and Grand counties this week extended their emergency orders making face coverings mandatory until Dec. 31, the city of Logan has carefully avoided taking a similar step.
In a delicate hair-splitting act, the Logan City Council approved a resolution Tuesday that strongly encourages residents and visitors to wear masks in public, but stopped short of being a legally enforceable mandate.
Following a public hearing on the mask mandate during their regular bi-weekly meeting on Aug. 18, the members of the city council were expected to vote on a request from Mayor Holly Daines to extend her Aug. 1 emergency declaration and its mask mandate until Dec. 31.
Instead, the council members approved a carefully worded compromise resolution.
Under the resolution passed Tuesday, any individual within the city of Logan age 5 or older who is “medically or psychologically able to tolerate a face covering shall be required to wear a mask of material and fit consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” That recommendation will apply whenever consistent social distancing of at least six feet is not possible, reasonable or prudent.
“It is the intention of that resolution for people to take personal responsibility to follow public health guidelines, protect lives and improve societal well-being …” according to Amy Z. Anderson, the council chairperson. “The resolution passed by the Logan City Council does require people to wear masks …
“The resolution does not carry with it, however, the enforcement provision that accompanies the current state of emergency.”
With Gov. Gary Herbert’s permission, Daines imposed the city’s original mask mandate in late July. Although the mayor pledged that the mask mandate would not be enforced punitively, the text of her executive order nevertheless stated that “repeat or egregious violations” of that order could result in either administrative or criminal citations.
While acknowledging that the council’s action Tuesday resulted in some public confusion, council member Jess Bradfield emphasized that the city council’s intent was that their resolution be viewed as falling mid-way between a purely aspirational proclamation and a legally binding ordinance.
During a Wednesday broadcast interview on KVNU’s For the People program, Logan’s mayor had a much less nuanced view of the resolution passed the previous evening.
“I’m operating under the premise that masks are required by the City Council until Oct. 15,” Daines said.
“We passed a resolution — as opposed to an ordinance — requesting and directing mask wearing among Logan residents,” Bradfield explained. “But we are not mandating (mask wearing) by law. The state of emergency and legal mandate will be lifted Aug. 30 and replaced with the council’s resolution on Aug. 31.
“We ask residents to care for each other, show compassion for the deeply held beliefs of those around us and to wear a mask whenever social distancing is not possible,” he added. “Our combined actions will have a magnifying effect if we will practice all three of those points, instead of any singular solution.”
Rather than turning local lawmen into “the mask police,” Bradfield said that the council resolution relies on community education to achieve its goals.
The text of Aug. 18 resolution reads: “… A campaign to spread awareness and scientific research pertaining to mitigation techniques, including masks, shall immediately be implemented by the city of Logan in coordination with designated representatives of the municipal Council.”
Bradfield noted that the council’s resolution does not supersede any mask wearing requirements posted by businesses in compliance with state or federal guidelines.
Anderson agreed that a business owner who has posted a requirement to wear masks could still request the assistance of law enforcement personnel if a customer’s behavior in refusing to wear a mask rises to the level of trespassing, public nuisance or any other civil offense.
“Yes, wearing a mask is not always comfortable,” Anderson admitted. “They can be hot. They make it harder to hear someone. They limit non-verbal communication. They hide a smile.
“But masks also help to keep my neighbors, my clients and my family safer. I will wear a mask for them and truly hope that others in our community will look to other’s interests as well.
“In short,” she concluded, “we are saying to our community that you should wear a mask, but the city of Logan will not enforce penalties should you choose otherwise.”