The Sun Valley City Council voted this morning to rescind the city’s COVID-19 health order that requires people to wear masks when around others in indoor and outdoor public places.
In a special meeting called by Mayor Peter Hendricks, council members voted 2-1 to annul the order, which had a previously established expiration date of July 1. Council President Michelle Griffith and Councilman Brad DuFur voted in favor of nullifying the order and subsequently having the city fall under the state’s COVID-19 mitigation guidelines. Councilwoman Jane Conard voted against the change. Councilman Keith Saks was absent.
Meanwhile, the Ketchum City Council is scheduled to review its health order at a special meeting at 4 p.m. today. Ketchum’s health order includes regulations requiring masks and limiting public gatherings.
Earlier this month, Sun Valley council members and the mayor informally agreed to review the COVID-19 situation and consider amending the city’s public health order when they convene for their next regular meeting in early June. However, Hendricks told the City Council on Monday that he decided to call the special meeting in light of new guidelines on mask wearing from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency announced Thursday 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.
Conard said she remains concerned that COVID-19 variants have been spreading, that the numbers of nationwide COVID-19 cases and deaths are still high, that children under 12 aren’t eligible to be vaccinated, and that many people from other places travel to Sun Valley.
“Public health doesn’t respect boundaries of governments,” she said.
Both Griffith and DuFur pointed to high COVID-19 vaccination rates in Sun Valley and Blaine County.
“Taking responsibility for your health, which is what the director of the CDC has said people should do, is a reasonable way forward,” Griffith said.
DuFur said he is comfortable with having the city fall under the state’s guidelines.
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.”
In early April, the City Council voted unanimously to extend the city’s public health order through the end of June. The now-defunct order stated that all people must wear a face covering that completely shields their nose and mouth “when members of the public are physically present for otherwise unprotected social interaction,” both in indoor and outdoor public places—with several exemptions. The city has been following state guidelines on other COVID-19 mitigation measures.