FULTON, Mo. (KMIZ)
After months of discussion about making masks mandatory in the city of Fulton, the city council will vote on whether or not to enact a mask ordinance Tuesday night.
The council passed a resolution in July strongly recommending the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it has never been mandatory within the city.
Fulton Mayor Lowe Cannell said the ordinance they will be discussing is similar to the draft that was presented to the council back in July. He said the council can make adjustments, or completely reject to proposal altogether.
The council decided to put the ordinance on their meeting agenda at their last meeting earlier in November.
"I think there was a little animosity on when to pull the trigger on some kind of mask mandate, but at this time it was brought up that we should put it on the agenda and take a vote," Cannell said.
The Council has several options according to Cannell, one would be to make it an emergency ordinance, which would put it in place much sooner. If it is not made an emergency, he said it may be until January before it would be enacted.
Cannell said he thinks it's the appropriate time for this to be discussed again as cases surge in Mid-Missouri.
"We're trying to react appropriately," Cannell said. "The COVID item has been on the agenda for a while now and we keep talking about it."
The Callaway County Health Department has reported 2,354 cases of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, with 692 active as of Monday.
City councilwoman for the second ward Mary Rehklau said in a statement to ABC17 News she thinks it's time to enact an ordinance with the cases rising in the city and the county. She said she has heard support from the citizens she represents.
I’ve weighed the pro and cons and it’s time to move forward with the ordinance. I was voted into office to represent the people and that is what I’ve always tried to do... By moving forward with the ordinance I feel I’m doing the right thing to help protect our citizens.Mary Rehklau, Fulton City Councilwoman for the second ward
ABC17 News reached out to the seven other members of the city council but did not receive a response Monday night.
The Callaway County Chamber's Executive Director Tamara Tateosian said the organization and their board of directors do not have an official stance on the issue. She said they are leaving it up to the local leaders and health officials to do what's best for the community.
The Chamber conducted a survey of businesses back in July, and Tateosian said the support of a mask ordinance was split between businesses.
The owner of GOPO Gourmet Popcorn in Fulton Brooke Bartlett said she doesn't have a strong opinion either way, but will follow whatever the city council decides to do.
She said this crisis has been extremely hard on small businesses, and she is just grateful to still be selling popcorn.
"Small businesses have taken a lot of the brunt, especially the service industry, of mask or no mask, open or curbside," Bartlett said.
She said most of the people that come into her business are already wearing masks, but she has been happy with how her customers are respecting other people's choices and social distancing.
Some businesses in downtown Fulton are already requiring masks to be worn in stores, so Bartlett doesn't think she would lose much business if a mask mandate is issued for the city.
Bartlett said it enforcing the order as a small business may be a challenge.
"We try to keep a super welcoming environment here, and so I think it could be a little awkward for us, but we would figure it out," Bartlett said.
Watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for the full report.