The move by the Idaho House to prohibit public health orders that require the public to wear masks is anti-business, anti-worker and pro-illness.

House Bill 339, which the Senate will now consider, would prohibit any government entity or official from issuing an order to require individuals to wear a mask or face shield in order to prevent or slow the spread of an infectious disease.

If the proposed law had been in place a year ago, no city or health department could have issued face-covering orders that reduced people’s exposure to exhaled droplets that carry COVID-19.

It would have left businesses helpless to impose mask requirements of their own. It would have created adversarial situations with maskless customers and employees who did not wish to wear masks. It would have made it impossible for businesses to protect workers and customers.

Mask orders in Blaine County and nearly all its cities gave businesses the backbone and the backup they needed to keep customers and workers from harm.

Signs posted by businesses that said “Masks required” and that listed the local ordinance that mandated them had clout. Signs that said “Please wear a mask” with no legal backing were useless.

The bill epitomizes the politics that have become a hallmark of the pandemic in the U.S. The bill should be titled “Government Can’t Tell Me What To Do.” Except that government tells citizens what to do all the time.

The Idaho Senate should refuse to hand over power to a virus that has killed 567,287 Americans since it began last year. It should see this bill for the utter nonsense that it is and stop it fast.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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