The Soldotna City Council on Wednesday axed a proposal to require people to wear nose and mouth coverings when in buildings open to the public.
An ordinance offered by Council members Pamela Parker and Jordan Chilson received hundreds of comments from the public. Health professionals lobbied for it, saying the medical sector could become overwhelmed if the virus spreads more quickly in Soldotna, while members of the public testified against the mandate and said it would kill the economy of the town of 4,700, which is situated close to the no-mandate City of Kenai. The testimony ran 4-to-1 against the Soldotna mandate.
Some private businesses already have mask rules but the sponsors of the ordinance wanted widespread mandates to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While the Kenai Peninsula cities of Homer and Kenai do not have mask mandates, Seward implemented one last month and is the only city on the Kenai Peninsula to have done so. In Palmer, in the Mat-Su Valley, the proposal was nixed after hours of testimony, predominantly against it. The mayor of Anchorage has mandated masks for those in public places, and Juneau is a masked community, while Sitka is not.
Presumed president-elect Joe Biden, while running for office, said that he would implement a national mask mandate and criticized President Donald Trump for not doing so, but on Friday he softened his stance, saying he would “ask” Americans to wear masks for 100 days, after he is sworn in as president.