The Bellevue City Council voted unanimously Monday to rescind a facemask order established in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision removes the last mask requirement in the Wood River Valley, following the lead of Hailey, Ketchum, Sun Valley and Blaine County in late May.

“Last week the valley had zero [COVID] cases,” City Councilman Chris Johnson said. “I’m for repealing it.”

Mayor Ned Burns, who was not present for the City Council vote Monday, established the facemask requirement under an emergency health order established on March 30, 2020, to increase isolation restrictions to fight COVID.

The order originally called for a shutdown of nonessential construction projects, tighter travel restrictions to and from Blaine County and a prohibition on public gatherings of any size and gatherings of unrelated people inside homes.

Since then, the city has reopened and vaccination rates have increased, but people in stores and other inside spaces were until Monday required to wear facemasks.

“We’re excited about the low positivity rate in Blaine County,” City Councilwoman Kathryn Goldman said. “But we did not repeal our emergency ordinance. That is still in place and allows us to revisit anything we might need relative to COVID. And businesses can still require facemasks.”

The emergency health order expires Sept. 30.

With Bellevue’s restriction rescinded, the city now falls under the state’s COVID mitigation measures.

The state is currently in Stage 4 of its Idaho Rebounds reopening program. Stage 4 encourages all eligible people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, “strongly” recommends face coverings “per guidance from CDC” and places no limitations on gathering sizes but states people at gatherings “should adhere to physical distancing and sanitation guidelines.”

The CDC recently advised that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks indoors or outdoors, except where required by federal, state or local regulations, or by private businesses.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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