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Provo council declines to remove penalties for mask violations

Council members vote 5-2 against the removal of fines
Coronavirus Mask
Posted at 3:15 PM, Sep 01, 2020

PROVO, Utah — The wallets of violators who disobey the City of Provo's mask mandate will likely not be getting any relief.

In a 5-2 vote at an afternoon work meeting on Tuesday, the Provo City Council voted against removing the $55 fine imposed against those caught not wearing a face mask in public. The issue was discussed prior to the council's formal meeting scheduled for later that evening.

"No one has been cited for not wearing a mask, though it is possible, it is not likely. The Council simply wants mask wearing to get to the 80-90% level like it is in SLCO which has seen a 52% drop in cases since its cases peaked and the mask mandate was implemented," said Cliff Strachan, Council Executive Director.

Only council members Travis Hoban and Bill Fillmore voted to abolish the fines which are part of the controversial mandate that went into effect Thursday.

Councilmember Shannon Ellsworth said, while the mandate is a "very divisive issue," she does not see how removing the penalties would fix the problem.

Some members of the council acknowledged it's unclear which agency should be enforcing the ordinance. Although Councilmember Fillmore said he disagreed with the idea of police being "burdened" with the responsibility, others agreed with the idea of leaving enforcement options open to allow flexibility.

Councilmember Dave Sewell said he did not want to take the idea of penalties off the table “in the case of egregious violations that endanger public health.”

The face mask ordinance is scheduled to expire November 15, unless the council decides to renew the mandate by October 20, 2020.