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Hastings mask policy heads to Board of Health for approval

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:32 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The City of Hastings is joining the rest of the Tri-Cities in working towards a mask policy for the city. The city council will be voting on the mask policy this coming Monday.

Before it is voted on it has to be approved by the city Board of Health. The five member board includes: the mayor, city administrator, council president, the chief of police and the city physician.

But how will it be enforced?

The enforcement will be tasked to the Hastings Police Department since it will be a city-wide ordinance. The policy they have would require face coverings inside where the public is allowed. This would include grocery stores, gyms, restaurants and many more offices and businesses. There are some exceptions such as medical conditions and when people are eating or drinking.

“I have every confidence in our police department that they will try to do as much as they can to avoid having to write tickets for something that really shouldn’t be that big of a deal,” City Administrator Dave Ptak said.

Police Chief Adam Story said they want to work on educating people before they have to write citations. But if there are multiple reports and concerns, they could fine people a minimum cost of $25. The ordinance will reflect what Kearney and Grand Island are looking to implement.

“This is an ordinance that was basically developed in Omaha and Lincoln,” Ptak said. “Kearney took it and tweaked it some. We got a copy of Kearney’s and we have now tweaked it as well.”

For businesses that do not let in the public, people can take off their masks when they are at their desk or office. If they get up and walk around, a mask is recommended.

Hastings leaders said the goal of the policy is to slow the spread to prevent hospitals from reaching the 25% capacity statewide that would cause the state to restrict businesses and gatherings again.

Governor Pete Ricketts said in his press conference Tuesday that cities should check the legality of their policies and he does not support a statewide mandate.

“The governor has been pretty adamant about not wanting to declare a mask mandate as far as for the state,” Ptak said. “Unfortunately, the Tri-City area has seen an increase in the hospitalization and utilization.”

Under state the legislature, municipalities can enact a mask policy under the recommendation of a city Board of Health.

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