After special meeting, Palmer City Council has not yet decided on potential face covering mandate

Special city council meeting called after the governor’s COVID-19 emergency alert
A mask mandate is being discussed for the city of Palmer
A mask mandate is being discussed for the city of Palmer(Scott Gross)
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 5:17 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A possible mandatory mask and face-covering directive for the city of Palmer is a subject that has the community divided.

“I’ve actually never experienced this level of uncivil behavior,” Palmer Deputy Mayor Sabrena Combs said. “Just bringing this forward has been harassment actually. I am very surprised how polarizing this is, it’s a public health matter.”

There are those like Palmer resident Kyle Conner who feel it should be up to the people on how they want to proceed during the pandemic.

“I think mandating it is definitely not the right thing to do,” Conner said. “It’s people’s choices that they need to make and they’re pretty educated on it by now.”

After last week’s emergency alert by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the Palmer City Council was approached by a number of people who asked that a mask mandate be brought forward. The city council agreed and scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday at 6 p.m. to hear from concerned citizens and council members.

“This is an emergency ordinance,” Combs said. “In my three years on the council, we haven’t passed any emergency ordinances.”

Combs said through email that at the end of the Wednesday meeting, they received 58 comments against the mandate and 51 in support. No decision has been made yet.

The council voted to count the rest of the written testimony at the meeting next Wednesday at 5 p.m. There are an estimated 500 more written comments.

“It would go into effect I believe immediately after passing since it is an emergency ordinance,” Combs said. “It would require a three-quarter majority vote by the city council.”

Combs says at the next meeting no more comments will be accepted as it is a continuation of the same hearing.

If the mandate does go into effect, it would be in place for no longer than 60 days.

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