Mayor makes masks mandatory

The Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Center in Moscow was set to open today, but because of an uptick in coronavirus cases, the opening has been delayed until further notice.

Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert issued a public health emergency order Tuesday requiring face coverings to be worn in indoor and outdoor public settings where 6-foot social distancing cannot be maintained with non-household members.

Lambert issued the order because of significant increases in coronavirus cases and escalating exposure concerns, according to a city of Moscow news release.

According to the order, it does not apply to children younger than 5 years old. With the assistance and close supervision of an adult, the city strongly recommends children wear face coverings in public spaces when social distancing cannot be maintained.

The order does not apply to individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering, and it does not apply to those who are incarcerated.

Individuals may remove their face covering in a public setting under the following circumstances: while at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service provided that they are able to maintain social distancing from guests seated at other tables; when not wearing a face covering is essential to communication for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals; while obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering; when necessary to confirm a person’s identity; and when local, state or federal law prohibits wearing a face covering or requires the removal of a face covering.

The order also states every person in the city must maintain social distancing from a non-household member whenever possible.

Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of the order shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, the order states.

The order will take effect midnight Thursday and will remain in effect for seven days. The Moscow City Council will extend, terminate or modify the order at its regular meeting, 7 p.m. Monday.

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said he is unaware of other cities and counties in Idaho that have instituted a similar mask requirement.

Latah County has 16 confirmed cases and five probable cases of the virus as of Tuesday, according to Public Health-Idaho North Central District. There were eight confirmed cases in the county this time last week and 13 confirmed cases and one probable case in the county Monday.

Idaho recorded its highest increase in cases since the outbreak started with 365 confirmed and probable cases Tuesday, the release said.

The opening of the Hamilton-Lowe Aquatics Center, scheduled for today, is delayed until further notice because of the increase in local and statewide coronavirus cases and the difficulty in wearing masks at the HLAC, the release said.

“In light of current cases and a trend towards a significant resurgence of COVID-19 infections and exposure in Moscow, it is prudent to assess the public health risks to the community as a whole,” Lambert said in the release.

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