How can the government make face coverings mandatory?

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile’s City Council will officially vote on a mandatory face mask ordinance on Wednesday, July 1.

On Tuesday at the council’s regular meeting, emotions flared as people voiced their opinions about being required to wear masks.

Can the government legally mandate face coverings? The simple answer is yes, but that does not mean people are happy about the idea.

One person at the City Council meeting said, “I am not willing to have my constitutional rights taken for people’s feelings.”

Several people spoke about their feelings of wearing a face covering. The same woman said, “There is no scientific proof that this is going to stop the disease and this is all we’ve got.”

Why can the government mandate you wear a mask out in public? The American Bar Association says under the United States Constitution’s 10th Amendment and U.S. Supreme Court decisions over nearly 200 years, state governments have primary authority to control the spread of dangerous diseases within their jurisdictions.

A leading national expert on federalism from Wake Forest University agrees.

Additionally, the National Conference of State Legislatures lists all the measures states can take.

Doctor Rendi Murprhee with the Mobile County Health Department said, “There are some conditions under which we would not want someone wearing a mask.” 

She explained children under two and people with a condition making it difficult to breathe with a face covering on should not wear masks.

Dr. Murphree said, “If you are, have underlying conditions, or if you’re in an age category that puts you at greater risk, and you really just cannot tolerate a face covering, really want you to stay at home.”

While the City may still say no to masks. Dr. Murpree said privately owned businesses could still require them. Both the American Disability Association and National Law Review support her statement.

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