Thursday, August 27, 2020

Provo Municipal Council overrides veto and enacts face coverings ordinance

The Provo Municipal Council met tonight to reconsider an ordinance passed unanimously on Tuesday, August 25, and vetoed today by Mayor Michelle Kaufusi. On a 6-1 vote, Councilors voted to override the veto and enact the ordinance which amends Provo City Code regarding civil infractions and requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ordinance requires face coverings or social distancing in publicly accessible spaces with specific requirements that vary depending on whether an individual is indoor or outdoors and whether an individual is attending a large public gathering. It also requires businesses to post signage

Passage of this ordinance came after several Council meeting discussions and input from thousands who participated in an online survey as well as those who reached out to the Councilors by email or phone. More than two-thirds of responses to the online survey and of emails received by the Council supported a mask mandate. The Council previously passed a resolution calling on Provoans to “accept personal responsibility to … follow public health guidelines,” and on the Mayor to expand education efforts to spread awareness and increase compliance with those public health guidelines.

The face covering and social distancing ordinance was originally passed at a special Council meeting held just two days ago. Following that vote, Mayor Michelle Kaufusi informed the Council that she would veto the ordinance. In her letter delivered today to the City Council, Mayor Kaufusi cited common ground with the Council wanting “a safe and vibrant Provo through coming months” and a shared “desire to see the highest possible rate of compliance with state health guidelines.” Her veto comes because of “difference over the right path … to get to that destination.” 

Council Chair George Handley expressed appreciation for the Mayor and Administration, stating that “nothing about our strong and honest difference of opinion about the need for a mask ordinance has changed that relationship. There is not a rift in the City leadership.” He also committed to seeking improvements to the ordinance and the City’s efforts if needed.

The Council’s goal in passing this ordinance is to increase the number of people in Provo complying with health guidelines in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. It does not ban public gatherings as some feared, rather it places requirements to wear face coverings as appropriate, with exemptions for a variety of medical and other issues. With an influx of university students arriving in Provo, there was a sense of urgency to have consistency between the mask requirements on the campuses as Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University and the off-campus areas in Provo where students and the community interact. BYU, UVU, and the Provo School District all have enacted mask mandates as part of their COVID-19 responses.

As this mask requirement goes into effect, this should not be seen as an invitation to start reporting those who aren’t wearing masks. This is a request that people in Provo wear a mask in public because it is the right thing to do and, now, it is the law. There are exceptions provided in the ordinance for many legitimate reasons for not wearing a mask and the public is encouraged to be understanding of those situations. The ordinance has a sunset clause that would cause this ordinance to expire effective November 15 unless extended by October 20, 2020.

Handley also expressed appreciation to the administration, staff, and others for their extraordinary effort in recent weeks. “And we thank this community,” said Handley. “We know you care and we value your voice and input, even if we sometimes disagree. I am proud to be a citizen of this great city.”


The full text of the ordinance can be found here:

More information about the ordinance is on the Council’s blog:



The full text of George Handley’s statement follows:

The City Council has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Mayor Kaufusi ever since she was elected. We have achieved a lot together and it will continue. Nothing about our strong and honest difference of opinion about the need for a mask ordinance has changed that relationship. There is not a rift in the city leadership. We know and trust and respect each other and as she said the other night, we are unified in our desire to minimize risk and promote the health and safety of this community during the pandemic. I am saddened by the anger directed at the Mayor. I haven't enjoyed much of the anger directed at me either for that matter. But my point is simply that I know the Mayor and my fellow council members enough to know that we see things differently and sometimes we agree, but we are good and honest people trying to do the right thing. If only all good people would agree all the time, things would be a lot easier. But we don't. So we have to practice the art of disagreement with great care. And in my experience, I sometimes fail at it, but I keep working to get better. As city leadership, we commit to model civility about this and other issues as we move forward, and If we can get along despite our differences, we hope that sends a signal to this community that we can all get along. There are strong feelings about this on both sides and we understand why. I think it is fair to say that we have spent more time listening to both sides than just about anyone. It has been a real education. What I find most valuable are the thoughtful and well reasoned responses that don't assume those who think differently are enemies to all that is good and right. My plea is that we can all commit to ongoing civil dialogue, to show kindness, patience, and forbearance. It is more important than ever. And that we can do our honest best to follow the health guidelines without fear, anger or division getting in the way. I know. Some people think this ordinance is wrong because it sows seeds of division. I hope that they are wrong. I plead with everyone to take responsibility for not only the physical but emotional health of the whole community, and that starts with a commitment to avoid pointing angry fingers of blame. If you feel strongly about something, reach out and engage in dialogue.


We commit as a council to continue the conversation with the administration, to identify all of the common ground we can to work in harmony, to identify effective strategies, potential areas of improvement in the ordinance, and to support important and ongoing educational outreach. We have already placed further discussion of this issue on our agendas for Tuesday for the express purpose of maintaining those open lines of communication and of ensuring that we have the very best ordinance and its implementation we can.


We thank our staff for all of their extraordinary effort in recent weeks. They have been remarkable. We thank the administration. They are top flight, thoughtful, smart, and decent people. And we thank this community. We know you care and we value your voice and input, even if we sometimes disagree. I am proud to be a citizen of this great city.

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SM Smith said...

This is utter bullshit. Here we are in the country on the downhill side of this pandemic, with a survival rate of at least 99%, if you even know you had it, and this holier than thou council passes this draconian over reaching heavy handed measure!!! The people here are sheep, living in fear of their shadows, believing everything the mass media tell them.
Time to Boycott Provo

James said...

The Provo City council no longer values personal liberty it seems.

Unknown said...

If I must wear a mask when I go into a Provo business or store, then I will go elsewhere. Hello Orem and Springville!

Unknown said...

Now I know who not to vote for. Also, I was wearing a mask before but now that I am being forced, I will peacefully resist.

Megan Geilman said...

I know this was a hard decision to make, I appreciate the difficult circumstances under which it was made and the care to keep our K-12 schools open for all the families in this city. Thank you, thank you!

Kaye said...

Thank you council. I appreciate your time and efforts to help quell this disease. I know you hear a lot of complaints but I’ve talked to many people who are grateful for the mandate, especially with so many college students coming back. Thank you!!

Bagelboy said...


Warner Woodworth said...

Wonderful news! I'm so glad the council had the brains and a commitment to "Life. Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," to do the right thing. Thanks for having college educations so you have the brains to use the best medical guidelines and scientific truths to make the right call. It takes courage to address national catastrophes like you did. It takes love to care about not inflicting suffering and death on one's neighbors. It takes faith to follow the inspired leadership of the LDS Church and to practice the principles of being one's "brother's keeper," as the scriptures and God's prophets have taught for thousands of years. It’s hard for me to imagine selfish Provoans shopping elsewhere and then bringing COVID back to our fair city and infecting their families and neighbors. I hope the readers who posted above don't just boycott Provo, but rather I hope they move elsewhere, like to Trumpville or to where Trump's brothers-in-arms dwell, Moscow. "Dr. Putin" has been Donald's medical expert for years, while Trump himself is merely a low level medical orderly. Maybe in the future Trump will get educated and then become a nurse somewhere after November's presidential election when we as a nation can start removing the stain and stench of our once-beautiful White House back to what it used to be before being invaded by a mob of incompetents and criminals. People commenting above have obviously never read the Constitution, the sacred document patriots love and honor. One says they will "peacefully" resist. Yeah, like the crazies with AR-15 pretending to be their own embarrassing "militias." You know, the cowards who've never served their country, but like to play dress-up when TV cameras are rolling. So again, Provo City Council, we respect your wisdom and thank you for serving the people of Utah!

Unknown said...

Governor Noem in South Dakota has been unflappable in asking her stats to act responsibly and with accountability. However, with wisdom she has continually indicated that people should be left to govern themselves. This wisdom has been ingrained in our founding culture since the 1800s. It should not change now. The express need by politicians to pass laws like this are politically motivated. When will this stop it is destroying our society.This is over the top and I will never vote for any of these sitting councilman again.

Snoop Dog Provo said...

Way to go Provo City ! Chase businesse to other cities !
No wonder businesses in Provo struggle ! Don't vote for these clowns again !!

Steve Miller said...

Big brothers heavy hand.

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