No-mask mandate petition started in Blair

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A petition to discourage the city of Blair from imposing a mask mandate was started and extended through Wednesday.

The city council will hold a special meeting Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Blair Public Library and Technology Center to discuss the issuance of a city mask mandate.

Megan Swope, a Blair resident who started the petition, set up a station at the Depot at Lions Park.

"The content of the petition, we just feel that the government should not be overreaching and telling us what we need to be doing as far as our own health measures," she said. "One, that's unconstitutional, and two, it has been shown not to be effective in different areas that have mandates."

Swope said she wanted to present this petition to encourage people to voice their opinions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's an informal petition. Blair has not passed a mask mandate, but we want to be proactive and not be caught the day of a city council meeting," she said. "At the end of the day, that's what matters — freedom of choice. I would think someone would want that regardless what side they're on."

Swope put out hand sanitizer, required a 6-foot distance and also encouraged people to sign from their vehicles if they weren't comfortable inside the depot.

"We're trying to do it right, keep it safe so everyone, even if they like wearing masks, they can feel safe coming in and signing," she said. "We've had really good conversations with people and how (COVID-19) has affected them."

There was a lot of support, as well as negativity for the petition, Swope said.

"I'm standing by my convictions and, at the end of the day, that's what matters to me," she said. "The hate that comes with this is very discouraging, because something like this, we're fighting for the liberties of everyone, whether you're pro-mandate or against the mandate. We're fighting for you to choose to wear one or not wear one."

Alternatives beyond a mask mandate, Swope said, would include individualizing one's own health.

"As an individual, I have a choice to live a healthy lifestyle or to not live a healthy lifestyle," she said. "(It's important to) be proactive in a lot of things — have a healthy diet, making sure you're exercising if you don't want to go to a gym during this period, getting out, getting fresh air and walking. A lot of those things have proven help either not contract it or just keep your body healthy in the event that you do contract it.

"If you're going to get (COVID-19), you're going to get it, and nothing's going to stop the virus necessarily."

Despite any hate or disagreements, Swope said it was important for her to present this petition to the community.

"We're a small community, but we've always been community strong," she said. "This is one thing we may have in common, but it's one thing we can be strong together on."

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