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Kearney city council to vote on mask mandate

On Tuesday, the Kearney city council is scheduled to vote on a city-wide mask requirement.(KSNB)
On Tuesday, the Kearney city council is scheduled to vote on a city-wide mask requirement.(KSNB)(KSNB)
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 12:26 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Two meetings are scheduled Tuesday afternoon which could lead to mask mandate in the city of Kearney.

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Kearney City Board of Health is meeting with a single item on the agenda: “Discuss and make a recommendation to the Kearney City Council on the possible issuance of an emergency ordinance to require individuals to wear facial coverings in the City of Kearney.”

The city board of health members are Mayor Stan Clouse, Council Vice-President Randy Buschkoetter, City Manager Mike Morgan, Police Chief Bryan Waugh and City Physician Dr. Robert Messbarger. The board of health meets only on an as-needed basis. Their last meeting was in April, when they also discussed the city’s approach to the coronavirus.

The city board of health is a separate entity, not related to the regional Two Rivers District Health Department.

In apparent anticipation of a recommendation from the city health board, the Kearney City Council has scheduled a special meeting Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. The agenda for that special meeting refers to a public hearing about a mask requirement, exceptions associated with a requirement, how it would be enforced and how long the requirement would be in effect. After the public hearing, the council will vote on Emergency ordinance No. 8457.

Governor Pete Ricketts, who has consistently opposed mask mandates of any kind, appeared to cast doubt on the city’s ability to create it’s own mask mandate during a press conference Monday morning. He referred to a mask mandate now in force in Omaha, saying that city had a special charter which allowed them to do so. Ricketts said he was uncertain that every Nebraska city had the power to do that. “And for any other city that’s looking at that, I would certainly reference you to your legal counsel to make sure,” Ricketts said. “I don’t know that it’s just automatically guaranteed for every city to be able to do that.”

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