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Mask up Jackson: Town Council passes public mask ordinance

JACKSON, Wyo. — After calling an emergency meeting to draft a mask ordinance yesterday, Jackson Town Council met again today and unanimously passed an ordinance requiring anyone in a public indoor area within Jackson town limits to wear a mask.

There are certain exceptions to the ordinance like being seated at a restaurant, in a workplace, or having certain medical conditions. Masks will be required, however, for waiting in line to enter a business or riding public transit.

Earlier this week, Dr. Travis Riddell, Teton County Health Officer, submitted a health order that would require masks to be worn in the county. The health order requires approval from State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist before it can go into effect. According to town officials, the state has yet to respond. Harrist said in a press conference this week that she and her team will make a decision soon, but not soon enough for the busy Fourth of July weekend ahead.

“In just over a week our cases have risen by more than fivefold,” Councilman Jim Stanford said at the meeting.

The Fourth is one of the busiest weekends in Jackson. Crowds of visitors flock to the town to enjoy their mid-summer holiday in the mountains. This is what prompted the last-minute meetings to create and draft an emergency mask ordinance, which is effective this weekend.

“We all hoped this order would have been signed before the holiday weekend,” Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon said in the meeting. “Consideration [for the health order] will presume when the holiday is over and I find that unacceptable.”

Several businesses had already established mandatory mask rules, but as town sees more visitors, it has also seen more refusal to wear masks in businesses, forcing businesses owners to make their own requirements and suffer abuse for trying to enforce them.

Two public comments were made at the meeting asking councilmembers to consider making wearing a mask voluntarily.

“When businesses were getting verbally abused, any notion of voluntary compliance went out the window,” Councilmen Arne Jorgensen said in response.

Councilors unanimously rejected and denounced the notion that masks have become a political statement. Wearing a mask “small sacrifice” and a “sign of kindness,” Muldoon said, upon which “our lives and livelihoods depend.”

The mask law in Jackson passed just one day after the town of Driggs, Idaho on the other side of Teton Pass passed an emergency mask order, requiring them in public places spaces, including businesses, parks, and churches.

“Lets put our selfishness and our outrage of this minor inconvenience aside, and let’s wear a mask to protect our businesses and community members,” Muldoon stated.

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