PROVO, Utah – Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi vetoed a mask mandate passed by the city council on Tuesday, arguing that the town’s education campaign and voluntary compliance has kept them in the yellow range.
However, with fears of thousands of college students returning to campus next week, the Provo City Council overrode the mayor’s veto 6-1 during a meeting Thursday night, reinstating the mask mandate.
Councilor Travis Hoban, who had reservations about the original ordinance, was the only no vote.
The mandate requires masks to be worn in indoor public places where social distancing is not possible or more than 50 people are inside, and outdoors if more than 25 people are present and social distancing is not possible.
People who are with their family, have a medical condition, working outdoors in “strenuous conditions”, or under the age of five would be exempt.
Businesses will have to put signs in their windows letting people know about the mandate.
Councilor George Handley also put out a call for more civil dialogue, saying the mayor and city council members had received a lot of angry comments from both sides of the issue.
“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,” Handley said.
He also shot down any notion that the mayor and city council were fighting, saying everyone wants the same thing, which are lower COVID-19 case counts.
“I don’t believe that anything about this strong and honest difference of opinion about the need for a mask ordinance has changed that relationship,” Handley said.
Those who violate the mask mandate could be fined $55, while someone who organized a large gathering but failed to enforce the mandate could face $500 in fines.
The city council could tweak the mandate again at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday.