No mask mandate for Blair

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As the numbers of COVID-19 cases have risen across the state, more than a dozen communities have issued mask mandates.

Those that have implemented mandates include Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Hastings, Norfolk, York, Ralston, Gretna, Columbus, Fremont, Beatrice, Kearney and Wahoo.

The discussion has also made its way to Blair.

On Nov. 20, Blair Mayor Rich Hansen urged residents to wear masks to slow the spread of the virus and ease the stress on local hospitals.

“No one wants to go back to the restrictions placed on our citizens this past spring, and no one wants to have any new mandates,” he said.

But, Hansen said in a press release, if numbers continue to rise, he would ask the Blair City Council to take action to require masks.

“It will all depend on how we together respond to the challenge,” Hansen said.

A mask mandate is not necessary in Blair. The mayor and the Blair City Council need to trust that Blair residents will and have responded to the challenge.

In the last two weeks, it appears more residents are wearing masks. Many businesses have implemented the use of masks in their stores and restaurants and people have complied.

Though informal, a poll on enterprisepub.com shows Blair residents don't want a mandate. Nearly 600 votes were cast showing 61% are against such a decree, while 37% were for it and 2% were uncertain.

The issue has also prompted a no-mask petition. Organizers were collecting signatures Thursday at the Depot in Lions Park.

“We are not here to say whether your choice of wearing a mask or not is right, we are fighting for our freedom of choice and setting the right precedent for the many other things soon to come due to COVID,” the organizers wrote on Facebook post for the event.

Wearing masks is important. Blair residents still need to do their part to protect themselves, their families and those around them, but they shouldn't have to be ordered to do it.

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