Seward is once again requiring masks in public spaces where social distancing is not possible. The emergency ordinance, passed unanimously at Monday night's meeting, will take effect at midnight tonight.
This ordinance goes for 30 days, though the city may renew it when that period is up.
Seward put a similar emergency ordinance in place this July, but that expired this fall. To date, it’s the only city on the peninsula that has made masks mandatory.
Councilmembers from Kenai and Soldotna, the other cities that have the power to pass such a mandate, have largely rejected the possibility of passing mandates in their areas.
Mayor Christy Terry said she hopes Sewardites understand the intent of the mask mandate is to make more drastic action unnecessary as case rates worsen in Seward and statewide.
“And I also think that this is the least of any mandate that we could put in place," she said. "I do not want to see our businesses shut down, I don’t want to see our kids staying at home any longer than they need to. So I’m hoping that people will take this under advisement, but also think about the other mandates that we could have put in place.”
The ordinance makes exceptions for kids 4 or younger, and those with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult. Individuals are permitted to take off their masks when they are actively eating or drinking, or when they are just around members of their households.
The last emergency ordinance in Seward also introduced capacity requirements and prohibited in-person gatherings of 20 people or more. This ordinance does not include such stipulations.