Papillion city council hears from citizens on mask mandate; third reading scheduled for Thursday

Posted at 7:04 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 23:52:02-05

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — Papillion has been under a state of emergency since mid-March, but like many cities they are just now considering a mask mandate after there was some question about whether or not they could legally do so.

A few weeks ago, Senator Justin Wayne announced that he had done his research and found a way for cities to put a mandate in place despite some opposition from Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Tonight the council heard from citizens about the proposed mandate, both those in favor and those against. They heard from several people who were in favor of a mask mandate, including health professionals who have been working to combat the virus. One ICU nurse who is from Papillion, said he went to New York earlier in the year and is now working in Des Moines.

“We have to tell people who took COVID seriously, wore their masks, social distanced and did everything right, that they will not be able to see their family again because the man at the grocery store behind them who refused to wear one got them sick," the man said.

Several citizens spoke against the mandate, saying it was government overreach, while others said a mandate wasn’t needed because people in Papillion are already wearing masks in public.

“People are already complying, so why do we need a law to mandate something that people are already doing," one woman asked.

This mandate was recommended by the safety commission on November 18 and adopted by the health department on November 25. Now, it will be up to the city council to decide if it will be implemented.

Related: Papillion Board of Health unanimously supports mask mandate; vote moves to the city council next week

This mandate, if passed, would require all citizens 5-years-old and older to wear a facial covering over their mouth and nose while in an indoor, public place when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Businesses would be required to follow the mandate and have a clearly visible sign showing that a covering is required. Some exceptions to the mandate would be for services that require a mask be taken off such getting dental work, when seated at a restaurant or if they have a medical exemption.

The mandate also states that owners or managers of public spaces can require masks be worn despite the listed exceptions. Anyone who is fails to comply with the mandate will be declared a public nuisance and danger to the community and could be given a $25 fine.

Papillion is one of the latest cities to consider a mandate, following Ralston, La Vista, Norfolk, Hastings and Kearney — all of those mandates happening in the last week.

If the mandate is passed by the city council, they do have the option to enact it immediately as an emergency ordinance. Otherwise, it goes into effect 15 days after it is passed. The expiration date for the mandate would be Feb. 23, but it can be extended by the city council if need be.

The council will continue their discussion and have a third reading of the mandate tomorrow night.

Watch the hearing below or on our Facebook page.

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