Allegheny County Council scuttles proposed masks ordinance

Native officers in Allegheny County squashed a brand new indoor masks ordinance on Tuesday after skipping the normal vetting course of and leaping proper to a closing vote.

Councilwomen Bethany Hallam and Olivia Bennett sponsored the proposal, which might have required masks indoors and for outside gatherings with greater than 250 individuals. It will have expired on April 30, 2022, except repealed sooner.

“This isn’t about being political,” Bennett mentioned. “This isn’t about attempting to do the new factor. That is about conserving individuals alive.”

Ten of the council’s 15 members voted towards the ordinance after agreeing to forgo a second studying or refer it to a committee for additional dialogue, noting that adopting such a rule is past the panel’s authority.

“I simply don’t imagine that it’s this physique’s function to inform individuals on the market the right way to stay their lives,” Councilman Sam DeMarco mentioned. “I feel this entire factor is misplaced. We don’t have the authority to do that.”

The vote got here after the county’s solicitor mentioned he couldn’t decide whether or not the ordinance was “authorized or unlawful,” however that it may be extra enforceable if promulgated as a regulation by means of the Allegheny County Division of Well being.

Hallam urged council members to offer the ordinance actual consideration – a sentiment that Councilmen Paul Klein and DeWitt Walton shared.

“I feel the one correct solution to proceed ahead with that is to have a committee assembly or a number of committee conferences,” Hallam mentioned. “I don’t suppose it’s honest to not have public touch upon this situation earlier than voting this up or down.”

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“I feel the extra accountable strategy would have been to ship it to committee the place we may have gotten some solutions to those questions,” Klein mentioned.

The choice comes after Gov. Tom Wolf mentioned he’d depart it as much as native officers to undertake extra mitigation efforts that align with the speed of an infection of their area. The Allegheny County Division of Well being recorded 297 new instances of COVID-19 and one loss of life during the last seven days. Because the pandemic started, the county has reported greater than 114,000 infections and almost 2,100 deaths.

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