Branson’s face covering mandate has been extended till 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Alderman Larry Milton was the only alderman to vote against the mandate during another board of aldermen meeting that lasted several hours.
The original face covering mandate went into effect on July 31 and was set for reevaluation and/or expiration on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
The ordinance has the following components:
–Requires individuals to wear face coverings while in indoor and outdoor public spaces unless they are engaged in certain activities or under the age of 13.
–Requires operators of public places to ensure guests use face coverings.
–Requires signage at all businesses outlining requirements on social distancing and face coverings.
–Penalty for violating is a $100 fine and potential revocation of business license and other permits.
A “face covering” is “a particulate mask or fabric covering of the nose and mouth secured to the face with ties, loops or elastic that is covering the nose and mouth.”
Several audience members were against the continuation of the mandate, including long-time Branson entertainer and theatre owner Clay Cooper.
“The people do not want this,” said Cooper. “We’re afraid for our livelihoods.”
“I book about 550 to 600 motorcoaches a year in my business, I’ve seen three this year. I don’t know if I’ll be open next month. I can’t solely blame that on the mask mandate, it’s a bad year. But, I have 95 employees that are all worried about their jobs. I’m worried about my job and feeding my kids and I’m telling you this mandate, if you think people are mean or they’re mad and irate, this is why. If you want your citizens back and you want people to be friendly and love on each other, get rid of this and the hostility will go away. Please do not extend this, I’m begging you.”
Milton later expressed reasons why he would be voting no for the mandate extension.
“I’m voting no because the vast majority of Branson residents, employers and employees have clearly expressed their opinions to me to strongly recommend masks and not have it mandatory,” said Milton. “I was asked after the study session why am I so pro business and I want to respond to that. It’s not that I’m pro business so the business owner can make more money. I’m pro business primarily because they are responsible for their employees. Their employees need to pay rent, put food on the table for their families. That’s why I’m supporting the businesses so much.
“Reduced hours and lost jobs will create unintended consequences in our community and there’s many, but homelessness, drug use, mental issues and crime are going to be unintended consequences as employers are forced to reduce their hours and I’m sad to say but the businesses that I’ve been talking to, they’re not sure they’ll be able to stay in business and how sad is that?”
Alderman Bill Skains then stated that he is for the continuation of the mandate and that it should be set for only 30 days.
“I’m going to take a different part of it, I’m all for this mask mandate but only 30 days,” said Skains.
“It’s just ridiculous to hear this. I can understand you disagreeing with something, but it is just ridiculous what we’re sitting up here hearing. Now, it’s not a hoax, it’s not against God’s laws, it’s not unconstitutional. This loss of income, it has nothing to do with the mask. It has everything to do with this virus. This is the reality of the situation, that this right here is going to help you – and social distancing and washing your hands – to take care of all this.”
On Sept. 3, the aldermen held a special study session to get updated COVID-19 information to help them prepare for the Sept. 8 meeting. Jerry Henry, CEO of H2R Market Research and Lisa Marshall, director of the Taney County Health Department, spoke to the board to give presentations.
Henry spoke to the latest research presented by the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB.
A few highlights from the study showed:
–84% of Branson visitors say mask mandates would either make them more likely to visit or would have no impact whatsoever.
–24% of Branson travelers are less likely than the average American traveler to support the idea of a mask mandate.
–46% of Branson prospects somewhat distrust or do not trust other people at all to act responsibly when it comes to wearing masks.
Marshall, with the Taney County Health Department, spoke on facts related to COVID-19 in Taney County.
The presentation did show that cases are declining in Taney County.
Check out “Study session provides insight for Branson aldermen about face covering mandate” at bransontrilakesnews.com to learn more about the study session.
Visit bransonmo.gov/805/Coronavirus-Information for the complete ordinance and further information about COVID-19 and face coverings.