NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from the aldermen meeting:
On Oct. 13 the Branson Board of Aldermen voted to extend the city of Branson’s face covering ordinance.
The ordinance was passed with an indefinite end date. Aldermen and/or the city can call for a special meeting at a later date to revisit the topic.
“I choose to listen to the medical community,” said Alderman Bill Skains. “If I go to a doctor and I have an issue with my heart, then I go to them. If I have an issue with my lung or my foot, but in this particular situation it’s somehow just different? You denigrate a man (Cox Medical Center Branson President William Mahoney, who spoke earlier in the meeting in favor of the mandate) of great integrity back there, and the other people, this guy was the head of the American Medical Association and the World Medical Association (David Barbe, M.D., M.H.A. who is currently a member of the AMA Board of Trustees and who also spoke earlier in the meeting in favor of extending the ordinance), and you sit there and shake your head that this means nothing to you. But, if you do have a heart attack you do go to a doctor and you will listen to them then.
“I think it’s an issue of the man who sits in the White House, that you get your orders from, that just absolutely ignores it even though he had COVID-19. (Several attendees then responded to the comment by yelling, disrupting the meeting) Mr. Mayor I’m for this ordinance, and I’d like to see it move forward.”
Larry Milton was the only aldermen who did not approve of the mandate extension. He made a motion to add two amendments to the ordinance. The first would have exempted churches from the face covering ordinance and the second would mandate face coverings only for essential businesses, but would exempt non-essential businesses. Milton is the owner of a Branson business, The Paddlewheel, which would be considered a nonessential business. Neither of the motions received a second, so they both died without a vote.
“Obviously, there’s been so much dissension, and our community is torn apart over this topic,” said Milton, when introducing his second requested amendment. “So, I would like to suggest that we amend our bill to mandate masks on essential businesses that will allow anybody to be able to go grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, dry cleaners. Essential businesses we would mandate masks. Nonessential businesses, the choice would be up to the business and ultimately up to the visitor’s pocketbook.
“So, those businesses that choose to enforce the masks are able to do that. Businesses that would choose not to enforce a mask mandate would have that option, and that would provide a choice for our community that if a business chooses not to mandate and they see the visitors are going to locations that do enforce the masks, then the business owner will realize that through the pocketbook, through their sales, that the mask mandates are what the visitors want.”
The ordinance passed with five ‘yes’ votes and one ‘no’ vote by Milton on its first reading. On its final reading, it passed with five ‘yes’ votes with Milton refusing to vote.
At least one person who spoke at the meeting said he was confronted by several mandate opponents after the meeting.
According to a Facebook post, Mahoney said that, while walking to his vehicle after the meeting, approximately nine people confronted him.
“I want to thank Sheriff Matthews and the Branson Police tonight,” Mahoney stated on Facebook. “While walking out to my car, after a city council meeting to promote masking, an individual jumped in front of me and blocked the door and said, how did you like what we did to you tonight, publicly calling you out? Branson policemen told him to back off and let me out. He then lied and said I was harassing him.
“He was referring to the premeditated hit job an organized group tried to do on myself, the mayor and our public health director (Taney County Health Department Director Lisa Marshall). They publicly lied, but since it was nine or so of them, they must have thought nine lies equal truth.”
The Branson Tri-Lakes News reached out to a spokesperson with Cox Medical Center Branson to get further comment from Mahoney. The spokesperson said Mahoney would let the post speak for itself.
The face-covering ordinance was originally passed July 28 and then was later extended on Sept. 8 to go till 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 14.
According to Branson Municipal Code, any person in the city of Branson is required to wear a face covering in a public space, except for the following exceptions:
- Children under the age of 13
- Any person with a documented health condition by a medical professional
- Any person who is hearing impaired or someone who is communicating with a person who is hearing impaired in which the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
- Any person in a public space that is seated and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from non-family members or reside together; but such persons must wear a face covering while in waiting areas and while walking to and from seating or other parts of the premises
- Any person in the water at a swimming pool
- Any person that is obtaining a service involving the head, face or nose for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service
- Any person playing a sport, exercising or using exercise equipment
- Any person who is outdoors while maintaining at least six feet of physical distance, except as otherwise provided in this article
- Any person outdoors who is standing within six feet of a family member or people who they reside with
- Any person performing on a fixed stage
- Any person engaged in public speaking who maintains a minimum of six feet of distance from others who are not family members or who reside together
- Any public safety officer engaged in an emergency situation
- Any person during a wedding ceremony or while photographs of the wedding and reception are taken
- Any family member of a deceased person during a funeral, interment or memorial
In regards to public spaces and the face covering ordinance:
- It is unlawful for any person operating a public space to allow any person in the public space who is not wearing a face covering unless that person is exempt due to the previous exemptions
- Businesses are required to display the proper signage provided by the city of Branson
If any person fails to adhere to the ordinance, penalties include:
- Any person who fails to wear a face covering when required shall be punished by a fine of $100 and court costs upon conviction
- If any person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls a public place where face coverings are required, fails to comply or require compliance shall be punished by a fine of $100 and court costs upon conviction
- No person shall be in violation of this subsection, if such person or place the person owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls requires compliance by wearing a face covering and a person who enters the public space refuses to wear one.
- In addition to the fines, anyone who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls a public space where face coverings are required but does not comply, may result in the suspension or revocation of any permit or license issued to the person for the premises which the violation occurred
Visit https://library.municode.com/mo/branson/codes/code_of_ordinances for the complete ordinance.