The Wrangell Assembly announced Tuesday it’s drafting a resolution asking people to wear masks in public, but the resolution will have no enforcement mechanism, and will be modeled after a similar resolution recently adopted in Sitka.
Assembly members said they were unsure of how practical an enforced mask mandate would be in Wrangell. However, Mayor Stephen Prysunka said it’s important that people take COVID-19 mitigation measures seriously, even for short periods of time.
“I’d just like to point out,” Mayor Prysunka said, “as someone who lives with a healthcare provider that she gets up every morning, puts on scrubs, straps on a mask, and goes to work all day long, and does it so that she doesn’t infect the patients, and if you can’t put on a mask to go buy a cucumber at the grocery store, if that’s just way too much for you, I’m really sorry.”
Assembly member Anne Morrison added that schools will likely require students to wear masks and adults should lead by example: “We can’t expect 7-year-olds to do something that we wouldn’t do,” she said.
Few Alaska communities of comparable size to Wrangell have mask mandates in place, and of those, few carry fines or other legal consequences for violations of the mandate. Juneau has a fine of $25 in place for violations of its mask mandate, and Dillingham has a sliding scale of fines from $100 to $1,000 for violations of its mask rule.
Wrangell has had masking requirements in place for government buildings since March, but did not put a mask mandate in place for city employees until early Tuesday (8/5) morning.
The resolution will be a discussion item at the next assembly meeting at 6 p.m. August 11. The assembly is encouraging public comment, though no formal hearing is scheduled. If the resolution passes, it will be the assembly’s first public statement on masking.
Masks are available at public buildings around town. The library has masks in children’s and adult sizes, and can be reached at (907) 874-3535. The fire hall also has masks available, and can be reached at (907) 874-3223.
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