The Branson Board of Aldermen have passed an ordinance mandating face coverings in the city.

This ordinance will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. July 31 and will expire at 11:59 p.m. 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.

 

According to a press release issued by the city of Branson shortly after the meeting, education will be the first step in enforcement. Branson Police will work to educate any violators of the ordinance before pursuing further action. Just like all city ordinances, violations of the ordinance can be reported by calling 911.

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.”

Four aldermen voted ‘yes,’ which led to the passage of the bill. 

“We’re in unprecedented times,” said Alderman Bill Skains.  “I heard some things today that really concern me and I call them selfish. The first goal of an alderman is the health, welfare and safety of our citizens. It is the No.1 concern. I listen to people who’s in the hospitals and I’m concerned about it. Do we want to educate our children that we don’t want to listen to the educated? This is neither a police state or a yellow star referring to the Jewish.”

Alderman Bob Simmons also spoke for the bill, saying he trusts the professionals in the Branson community.

“It’s a shame to me we can’t trust our government, we can’t trust the World Health Organization (WHO), we can’t trust the CDC and that’s come about with politics over the last few years and that’s a real shame,” said Simmons. “But, going beyond that, that means that I have to drop back to local people that I know, local people that I trust. I was very disappointed at the previous meeting where we have people stand up and call a doctor a liar and shake their fist at him. That’s totally unacceptable.”

Larry Milton was the lone vote against the ordinance.

“I know, for a fact, that a lot of our businesses are really taking this seriously,” said Milton. “To mandate, especially the way this bill’s written, I just can’t see it. After careful and thoughtful consideration of the comments and the facts, I cannot support this bill. I am voting for the will of the people. At our previous meeting the majority were against the bill (and) today a majority are against the bill. So, I will be voting ‘no.’ I reserve the right to change my opinion as new facts are presented.”

Alderman Kevin McConnell, who recently submitted his resignation from the board, effective Aug. 7, was absent from the meeting.

Several members of the public were allowed three minutes each to speak about the ordinance, including Branson entertainer Yakov Smirnoff, who said he opposed the mandate. The comedian said he had recently been in Chicago and couldn’t wait to get back to Branson where there was not a face covering mandate. 

“It’s become a police state,” he said. “They are empowering everyone to become enforcers.”

The Russian native then told a story about a boy in Russia who turned his father into the police for hiding food, and the father was executed. He said he hoped the aldermen would reject the mandate and keep Branson “an island of freedom and peace.”

“People who come here say this is the way America used to be,” he added. “I say this is what America ought to be.”

 

There are several cut-out exceptions in the ordinance. The following are not required to wear a face covering:

–Children under the age of 13

–Any person with a health condition documented by a medical professional that prohibits wearing a face covering

–Any person who is hearing impaired, or someone who is communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication

–Any person in the water at a swimming pool

–Any person who 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 physical distancing of at least six feet, except as otherwise provided in this Article

–Any person who is outdoors who is closer than six feet to family members or people who they reside with

–Any person performing on a fixed stage

–Any person engaged in public speaking who maintains a minimum physical distance of six feet 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.

 

According to a city report, Section 79.380, RSMo of Missouri statutes gives the Board of Aldermen the authority to “make regulations and pass ordinances for the prevention of the introduction of contagious diseases in the city, and for the abatement of the same, and may make quarantine laws and enforce the same within five miles of the city.”

The aldermen approved the bill after postponing a decision during a July 16 meeting. A total 39 people came forward at the July 16 meeting to speak during the public comment section which lasted approximately five hours.

Visit bransonmo.gov for the complete ordinance and to learn more about face coverings. This information can be found on the city’s “Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources and News” tab.

(4) comments

iStone417

I attended both meetings and I am extremely disappointed with the decision of the aldermen in Branson. It was obvious from the onset of the first meeting that four of the five aldermen already were dead set on enacting the mandate. They listened to over five hours of public feedback in the first meeting on July 16, then another 45 minutes of public feedback yesterday, including feedback from noted and popular Branson entertainers Yakov Smirnoff and Clay Cooper, both who requested that the aldermen NOT enact a mask mandate, as did over 80% of the others that spoke at the meeting. According to the aldermen, around 80% of the feedback that they got via email and phone calls were also against the mask mandate. Clearly the people of Branson, including the majority of business owners in Branson, requested that the aldermen NOT enact the mask mandate. The aldermen chose to enact the mandate AGAINST THE WILL OF THOSE WHO ELECTED THEM. I believe that a good investigative reporter could dig enough to discover substantial increases in the bank accounts of the four aldermen who voted to enact the mask mandate. That is just my opinion, but I heard it from others at the meeting, and at both farmer's markets yesterday evening. Lord have mercy on Branson. The aldermen seem to be paid off.

William B

Glad to see Branson has some medical professionals voting in New laws. Oh wait just politicians that "care" about people.. yeah right, they care about your vote. These people should look at the numbers and the facts. They should move to China if they want to live in a communist area. I guss ill be spending my money outside city limits. ... hello 911 this man doesn't have a mask. How dumb does that sound.

Retired Cop

I moved back to this area in April after I retired. I used to live here and loved it. This was a city were God and Country were worshiped and veterans were respected. Since my return, this has not been the case. I hear the occasional "Thank you for your service" but hear often that veteran discounts are no longer. When I say, "God Bless and Have a Good Day" the reply to have the same does not occur. I visited churches where everyone stayed home because of fear of contracting a virus that has a 99.96% mortality rate, not to mention that people are being notified they have tested positive because they know someone who has been told they were positive. I guess our faith in God says he'll heal us; maybe, if we contact the virus, but he won't do anything to prevent it. He has excused us from witnessing and ministering during this political crisis, and yes, this whole issue is political, not medical.

It's bad enough that elected officials made decisions that will help destroy this economy based on false and misleading information, but they did it knowing the people who elected them did not want them to. People can now be fined $100 for not wearing a mask in public and their neighbors are encouraged to report them if they fail to do so?

Since I moved away in 2014, Branson has become a city of empty buildings, failed businesses, a ghost city that used to be called Veteran City USA. I guess we have the city government to thank for that. At least the local government can't destroy the natural beauty of the Ozarks, yet.

Retired Cop

The 99.96 % recovery rate is still in effect. Fraudulent positive result reporting is not only still occurring, but is increasing. Now two Aldermen choose to not have their names bandied about the public s voting against the wishes of those elected them. We know that Bill Skains and Bob Simmons have bowed to somebody's pressure, not the will of the people. Kevin McConnell already quit serving the people before his effective date. Makes one wonder if he ever served the people at all? Hope he enjoyed the benefits he received as an elected official. At least we know of three names to avoid at election time. I will be interested to read the results of an investigative reporter's look into the possible reason our elected leaders chose to ignore the will of the people.

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