Hundreds comment on Soldotna mask ordinance before council vote

Dec 2, 2020

Soldotna would be the second city on the peninsula to require masks in public spaces. Seward implemented a mask requirement last month.
Credit Sabine Poux/KDLL

Ahead of tonight’s meeting, the Soldotna City Council received nearly 400 comments in opposition to a proposed mask mandate. Almost 100 were submitted in favor of the proposal, several from hospital administrators and staff.

The comments were in response to Ordinance 2020-28, which would temporarily require face masks in public spaces in Soldotna.

Many commenters who oppose the mandate cited fears of government overreach. Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Richard Derkevorkian said that under a mandate, Soldotna would be ruling its citizens like “communist China.”

Elaina Spraker, the regional director for Sen. Dan Sullivan, was among the commenters that alleged masks might increase the risk of infection for wearers. The CDC recommends the use of masks and shows that widespread masking has been proven to slow the spread of the virus.

Other commenters said they’re not necessarily opposed to mask-wearing but think it would be hard to enforce compliance — a point Kenai and Soldotna city council members have repeatedly brought up when discussing mask policies.

Central Peninsula Hospital CEO Rick Davis wrote in on behalf of hospital administration in support of a mandate, as did several local doctors. Some business owners said that without a citywide mandate, ensuring mask compliance within their own establishments has been difficult.

The council meets tonight at 6 p.m.