Petitioners in Beatrice hope city mask mandate is not extended

A health board meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. to decide whether or not the mandate will be extended.
Screen Shot 2020 12 10 At 6.37.38 Pm

Beatrice’s mask mandate is set to expire on December 15. Some Beatrice residents are hoping the city health board does not extend it.

Petitioners gathered outside of the 402 Sports Bar and Grill on Thursday encouraging people to sign a petition for the health board to weigh the pros and cons of the mask mandate before making a decision to extend it.

“What kind of scientific data, reviews, studies, that kind of thing, did they use to make the decision? I was told that wasn’t a part of it. That frustrated me to make a decision for 12,000 people,” petition organizer Amy Southwick said.

Southwick cited several studies that found that while masks are effective in health care settings, the data is less conclusive in community settings.

Petitioners also expressed concerns that the Beatrice mask mandate did not have any exemptions.

“There definitely needs to be a medical exemption and we also want exemptions for religious members as well as exemptions for churches and restaurants so that they can continue doing business,” petitioner Ashley Mason said.  “They’ve been the hardest hit by all of this.”

Beatrice police chief Bruce Lang maintains the mask mandate was put in place due to the city’s decreasing hospital capacity and a surge in positive cases.

“This is a fairly controversial subject so you’re going to see studies on both sides of it,” Lang said. “People presenting scientific data that says they are effective and there’s some that will quote what they find for studies that say it’s not effective. Unfortunately, the health board is kind of caught in the middle and they’ll try to decipher those things and make the best decision.”

Despite the mandate, Lang says the Beatrice Police Department has not issued a single ticket for violation of the mandate and instead has worked on getting voluntary compliance from the community.

A health board meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. to decide whether or not the mandate will be extended.

Categories: Gage, Nebraska News