MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile City Council was set to vote on an ordinance to require masks to be worn in public, but the council, after hearing much debate, decided to call a special meeting on Wednesday for this vote.
That meeting will be held at Government Plaza at 2 p.m. tomorrow. The council felt after hearing the heated debates from both sides of the issue they needed more time for discussion and possible tweaks to the ordinance.
This meeting came after Mobile County having a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases in a single day — 118 cases. Health officials representing many organizations and hospitals in the county cited this rise in case numbers supporting the ordinance. Dr. George Koulianos, the president of the Medical Society of Mobile County, was the first to speak, saying in part, “You can never over-respond in a pandemic. You are protecting people’s livelihood, but you can under respond.”
Dr. Eichold with the Mobile County Health Department also gave the City Council some insight, saying, “I may feel good and you may feel good, but you don’t want to give COVID-19 to someone else and there is a lot of asymptomatic spread. The sooner we act the better.”
But it was a heated debate even after the health officials spoke, many of those on the opposing side feeling a mandate like this would be an infringement of their rights. One woman saying, “I am not willing to have my constitutional rights taken for people’s feelings. There is no scientific proof that this is going to stop the disease and this is all we’ve got.”
It wasn’t just the concerned citizens against this ordinance, but also Councilman John Williams. Toward the end of the speakers, he said, “I am not against masks, I’m simply against our government saying you gotta wear a mask. I don’t think we can enforce this.” He went on to say he doesn’t feel we should pass an ordinance we aren’t certain we can enforce.
After hearing from both sides, the council decided to push the vote and call for a special meeting on Wednesday. Tweaks to the ordinance regarding health limitations and the minimum age requirements could be made as well. Mayor Stimpson spoke with us after the meeting saying, “This is a moving target and you change what you’re doing based on the circumstances that you’re presently dealing with.”
If the ordinance is passed tomorrow, it will be in effect for 30 days, but how it will be enforced is still on the table.
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