COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia City Council will discuss an emergency ordinance on Monday which could mandate masks throughout the city.
The mandate would go into effect at the decision of the council and would last 30 days unless "extended, rescinded, superseded or amended in writing by later adopted ordinances."
It requires everyone five and older in Columbia within six feet of another person to wear a mask.
Children ages two to five are also "strongly encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings."
Individuals convicted of violating the ordinance could be fined $15, while businesses could be fined up to $100.
The ordinance was put to draft in the city council's Aug. 2 meeting, as the delta variant powers a surge in COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated.
"If you look at who's in the hospital, overwhelmingly, they're unvaccinated people," said Matt Pitzer, the Columbia City Council Ward 5 representative. "That's why I think that we need to continue focusing that message that vaccines are what's going to solve this, not masks."
Pitzer says the Columbia/Boone County health department is doing well enough with vaccine outreach.
"You know the number of vaccines that they administered in July was 50% over what they did in June, and that's exactly what we want," Pitzer said. "We want them focused on vaccine outreach, not enforcing a mandate that's almost impossible to enforce anyhow."
The council will first hear public comment before voting on a mask mandate.
Columbia City Council Ward 2 representative Andrea Waner says she is looking forward to hearing public input.
"I think there is a lot to consider in this decision and I plan to trust the health experts in our Columbia," Waner said. "We have a difficult task ahead."
Six out of seven members must vote yes on Monday to approve the emergency mask mandate.
"As elected officials, our job is to lead with data and to do what is in the best interest of all those in our community," Waner said. "Right now, that looks like strongly encouraging people to get vaccinated and to wear a mask."
The special meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. in City Hall.