Boise COVID-19 briefing

Mayor Lauren McLean delivers an update on the city’s COVID-19 readiness and response during a media briefing at Boise City Hall, Monday, March 16, 2020.

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BOISE — Mayor Lauren McLean signed an emergency health order Thursday mandating masks be worn in all indoor and outdoor public places in the city, with some exceptions.

The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. 

"Coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are now required in all indoor and outdoor public places," McLean said in a press release Thursday.

"Public place" is defined in the order as "any place open to all members of public without specific invitation, including but not necessarily limited to, retail business establishments, government offices, medical, educational, arts and recreational institutions, public transportation, including taxi cabs and ridesharing." 

Exemptions to the order include children under 5; on-duty first responders; those with hearing impairment or certain medical conditions or health concerns; and those who are dining out or recreating indoors or outdoors as long as they stay 6 feet from people not in their household or party. 

As far as enforcement goes, the order says individuals and businesses "are urged to voluntarily comply," and the city will make efforts to educate the public about it. However, violating the order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both, the order states.

The mayor's decision to require masks is based on "a significant increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ada County," and has "robust support from the health and business communities," McLean's statement reads.

"I am deeply grateful for all of you who have been staying apart to benefit the entire community," she said. "But it’s clearly time we do more."

"We must do all we can, as a community, to protect our most vulnerable, and slow the spread of this virus that is a serious risk to our health and economy, especially as we head into the Fourth of July holiday weekend and summer vacation season," McLean added. "It’s proven science that using face coverings greatly decreases the transmission of this deadly virus. Keeping our businesses open and able to operate is paramount to our recovery."

Scott DeBoer, Micron's executive vice president of technology and products, and John Berryhill, owner of downtown Boise restaurant Bacon, both shared support for the mayor's order in the city's press release. Micron requires on-site staff to wear 3-ply surgical masks, DeBoer said.

“Wearing a mask in public has nothing to do with our citizenship, politics or opinions,” Berryhill said. “It has everything to do with each of us protecting all of us.”

Dr. David Peterman, CEO of Primary Health Medical Group, also stated his support in the release, noting that Primary Health is seeing an "overwhelming demand for testing," with positivity rates eight times higher than they were in April. 

Ada County saw 119 new cases Wednesday for a total of 2,288. The Treasure Valley is the state's hot spot for infections in Ada and Canyon counties; followed by Kootenai County in North Idaho; and Twin Falls and Cassia counties in the Magic Valley, the Idaho Press previously reported.

The cities of McCall, Hailey and Moscow are also requiring face coverings be worn in public. 

Central District Health last week moved Ada County back to Stage 3 of reopening because of rising cases, while the rest of the state remains at Stage 4. In Stage 3, bars aren't allowed to open in Ada County and gatherings are limited to 50. Stage 4 does not restrict business openings but has guidelines on social distancing and other safety measures. 

McLean last week also issued a public health emergency order moving Boise back to Stage 3, with similar restrictions to the health district's order. 

Click here to view McLean's full public health order mandating masks. 

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