The Anchorage Assembly will consider an ordinance on Tuesday that proposes to require business owners in Anchorage to enforce an extreme mask ordinance.
Ordinance No. AO 2021-91, a law proposed by Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel, says “all individuals must wear masks or face coverings over their noses and mouths when they are indoors in public settings or communal spaces outside the home; or outdoors at large crowded public events. Unvaccinated individuals are additionally encouraged to wear masks at all outdoor public gatherings regardless of size.”
The ordinance requires businesses to be their own enforcers, and that they must remove or compel people from their premises if they don’t have a mask on. Compel means forceful removal, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary. It’s unclear if this means business owners may put their hands on customers and throw them physically from the premises.
In addition, it’s got to be a surgical or cloth mask, not a face shield. “A face shield is generally not permitted in lieu of a mask or face covering, as face shields are less effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” the Zaletel ordinance reads.
It also requires employers to make sure their employees wear those masks or face coverings when with the public or unvaccinated coworkers. The new law does not apply to those in prison or police custody.
Those opposing the new ordinance, which was sprung in a poorly advertised, nearly secret meeting of the Assembly last week, plan to attend the Assembly meeting on Tuesday at 5 pm. The Assembly meets on the ground floor of the Loussac Library. Opponents of the ordinance say they will wear red to take a stand.
According to the ordinance, the mayor will be stripped of his executive authority, as all workers in the municipality will come under this ordinance, including those working in his administration, putting the Assembly in the driver’s seat for the city’s human resources management.
The ordinance also mandates that all city meetings “shall” be limited in numbers of attendees, but doesn’t say what that number is. This gives the Assembly the ability to once again shut people out of its public meetings, as it did in the summer of 2020, so it could pass controversial purchases of hotels to house and treat the inebriates in Anchorage.
It’s expected there will be changes to the ordinance that are made at the last minute and that the public will not know about until Tuesday’s meeting. Those changes could include more strident enforcement mechanisms.
Assemblyman Chris Constant, Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance, and Zaletel are expected to offer “S” versions.
“The Municipality reserves the right to use all available enforcement options to assure compliance with this Order,” the ordinance reads. The Assembly plans to mask the public through Dec. 31, but may remove the mask requirement earlier if it chooses.
The Assembly leftist majority has lined up doctors to testify in favor of the mask mandate, and the doctors will present a letter signed by dozens of medical workers in support of the Assembly majority.