Thursday, September 24, 2020

Mask Ordinance Referendum Questions

A referendum has been filed seeking to have Ordinance 2020-36V, regarding civil infractions and requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, referred to voters for their approval or disapproval. The proposition information pamphlet is available online.

Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions:

  • How do I learn more about the referendum?
    • The Proposition Information Pamphlet can be found here: https://www.provo.org/home/showdocument?id=18838
      • The referendum application (shows who filed) can be found on pages 2-3.
      • The sponsors' argument against the ordinance is found on page 8.
      • Provo City's argument for the ordinance is found on page 9.
  • Is the mask requirement unconstitutional?
    • All constitutional rights are subject to the government's authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community. This authority is called the "police power." 
    • The case of Jacobson v Massachusetts established where legislative "police powers" are derived from. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld a smallpox vaccination requirement in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The court wrote, "There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist without safety to its members." 
  • Do masks count as a medical device or medical treatment?
    • According to BMJ (aka British Medical Journal), "We use the term 'medical mask' to refer to a device that meets particular standards and is intended primarily for healthcare workers (but may also be recommended for the public). The term 'face covering' refers to anything that covers the face, including homemade or commercially sold coverings (typically made of cloth, but sometimes from paper or other materials) intended primarily for the public."
    • "Framed medically, a face covering is either personal protective equipment (to protect the wearer) or a means of source control (to prevent the spread of illness)."
  • What are the requirements for the referendum to be successful?
    • The group will need to collect 3,200 certified signatures (Utah County certifies whether or not the signatures are valid), with a certain percentage of those signatures from four of the five Council districts. Signature packets must be turned in to Utah County before 5:00 pm on Monday, November 9
    • If successful, the item would appear on the ballot in November 2021.

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Comment below (requires Google account), on our Facebook page, through our online comment form, or by contacting Council Members directly. Comments/input on items appearing on an upcoming meeting agenda will be compiled and provided to Council Members the day before the meeting. **Note - your comments will be part of the public record.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Provo's COVID-19 Mask Ordinance (updated 9/16/2020)

The ordinance is in now in effect.

NOTES TO THIS UPDATE:

(1) August 27, 2020 - The Provo City Council voted 6-1 to override the Mayor's veto of the ordinance. It contains a sunset provision of November 15, 2020.

(2) August 31, 2020 - Pursuant to Utah Code 20A-7-6, a petition to gather signatures to put the ordinance to referendum has been filed. The state code provides time limits for all steps in the process, including signature gathering, verification of signatures, and determination whether sufficient signatures were obtained. Depending on when signature gathering commences, how much time is required to gather signatures and for the County to verify signatures, the estimated latest date that determination could be made is December 11, 2020. If effort is successful, the ordinance would be suspended pending a referendum to be held next year (2021).

(3) September 15, 2020 - The Provo City Council unanimously approved some amendments to the ordinance to clarify some things.

On August 25, 2020, the Provo City Council unanimously approved an ordinance regarding the use of masks in Provo in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 by requiring all individuals within Provo, Utah, to wear face coverings while (1) in indoor public spaces* and when not maintaining a social distance of at least six feet from individuals not residing in the same household, (2) in attendance at large outdoor gatherings where social distancing is not possible, reasonable, or prudent, and (3) in attendance at large indoor gatherings. 

* "Indoor public spaces" means any building or indoor area, including businesses and government buildings, that authorizes, permits, or invites anyone who is not an employee, resident, or owner of the building or indoor area, to enter in order to conduct business, recreate, or otherwise use the facilities provided therein. This does not include the interior of any private dwelling (i.e., your home).

The full text of the updated ordinance itself can be found online.


Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this ordinance:

What the ordinance does and does not do?
  • The ordinance requires individuals to wear face coverings and/or practice social distancing in publicly accessible spaces with specific requirements that vary depending on:
    • whether an individual is indoors or outdoors
    • the size of gatherings
  • The ordinance requires businesses to post signage of the face covering and social distancing requirements.
  • The ordinance requires organizers of public gatherings to require attendees to wear face coverings and to provide clear signage of the face covering and social distancing requirements.
  • The ordinance DOES NOT BAN activities or public gatherings.
  • The ordinance DOES NOT require masks at home or in your yard, on public streets, sidewalks, or parking lots (unless the size of gatherings clause necessitates).
  • The ordinance provides numerous exemptions for individuals (see Who is Exempt? below)

Why the mandate?

  • To protect lives and livelihoods. Many studies have shown that the higher the percentage of people who wear face coverings and practice social distancing, the lower the incidence of COVID-19 transmission in the community. Debunking common mask myths.
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Why now?

  • Recent projections by BYU researchers indicated that without high levels of compliance with standards for wearing masks and socially distancing, the return of some 70,000 university students to Provo and Orem will result in significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases in these communities. While there are mask requirements on campuses, until now there have been no community-wide restrictions off campus. The interactions and interconnectedness between students, businesses, and year-round residents will increase dramatically now that our students have returned.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Citizens Agenda for Meetings on September 15, 2020

Citizens Agenda

Council meeting agendas are often difficult for people to navigate. Filled with jargon and legal requirements on how an item must be listed, it can be a challenge to determine what Council members are actually discussing or deciding on.

What follows is a staff interpretation of the agendas.

The official published agendas and supporting materials can be found here:  http://agendas.provo.org

Due to the risks of public gathering associated with the spread of COVID-19, these meetings will be conducted entirely via electronic means. For information on how to view the meetings and how to contribute public comments, visit our blog: http://www.provocitycouncil.com/2020/03/virtual-provo-city-council-meetings.html

PROVO MUNICIPAL COUNCIL

Work Meeting Agenda

12:00 pm, Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Work Meetings are designed to be a less formal venue for discussion among Council Members. Generally, no public input is taken during the meeting.

Business

  1. A discussion of possible amendments to Chapter 9.25 COVID-19 Response. (20-128)

    • The Governor of Utah allows local jurisdictions to decide if mandating masks are warranted requirements to combat COVID 19. On August 25, 2020, the Provo Municipal Council passed an ordinance initiating Section 9.25 and amending Section 9.17 of Provo City Code. This was done to address the health issues caused by COVID 19. On August 27, 2020, the Council held a special meeting to override the Mayor’s veto. Since the passage of the ordinance there have been discussions about making some changes to Section 9.25.

  2. A presentation regarding budget carryovers from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021. (20-125)

    • This presentation will outline the amount of budget carryovers from the fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget to the fiscal year 2021 budget. The carryovers include (1) amounts that were encumbered on purchase orders in FY20 but not paid and (2) amounts committed to current ongoing projects and equipment purchases. Also included are all remaining unspent balances in capital improvement project fund budgets from FY20.

  3. A presentation regarding Best Friends Animal Society's Community Cat Program. (20-129)

    • Trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs are one approach to preventing cat populations from growing beyond what animal shelter facilities can manage. Salt Lake County explained TNR as “a humane and non-lethal approach to long term community and feral cat population control.” TNR programs first trap (either by working with cats brought to the shelter or by sending someone to trap feral cats reported in the area), then neuter, then return the cat (back to the wild if it is too unsocialized to be adopted, or in an adoption shelter if it can be rehabilitated). In addition to ethically controlling the local feral cat population, TNR also reduces the sounds and smells associated with cats mating or marking territory, which are the most common complaints from residents. According to Lydia LaSalle, the Executive Director for Utah’s Best Friends Animal Society, as of 2019, "Weber, Davis, and Salt Lake Counties all have successful [TNR] programs, but Utah County remains the only urban county to not adopt the practice which is becoming the national norm.” Provo City also does not currently operate an independent TNR program, though at least one non-profit, Ashley Valley Community Cats, operates one in the area.