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Boise mayor imposes enforced business mask restrictions

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Boise mayor Lauren McLean imposed mask requirements on businesses. Photo by Catie Clark

This article was updated at 1:20 p.m. to reflect additional information issued by the City of Boise just before noon on Nov. 19, adding separate contact numbers for businesses and patrons to use.

The City of Boise will add teeth to mask and face covering enforcement within city limits, starting on Nov. 23. Mayor Lauren McLean held a Zoom meeting on the morning of Nov. 19 which announced this to the city’s business community.

“The numbers are bad, they are very bad,” McLean said. She added a little bit later: “I don’t want to shut anyone’s business down, but we’ve got to do better.” The Mayor told the meeting attendees that her current strategy was to keep following the public health district’s current directives but to add some enforcement teeth to the city’s mask mandate.

The city will begin enforcing its mask mandate at businesses. For establishments that have customers who refuse to wear a face covering, they can call the Boise Police Department non-emergency dispatch at 208-377-6790. The city will then send a law enforcement officer to the requesting business to help.

The city’s official statement on the new policy states: “We know it can sometimes be difficult for staff to enforce these rules and the city is here to help. If you are a business that needs support enforcing your COVID-19 protocols, call the Boise Police Department non-emergency dispatch at 208-377-6790Boise Police will be available to issue a citation or arrest an individual who won’t comply with a business’s protocols once the individual has been asked to leave the business. BPD will respond at the request of the business for assistance.”

Business patrons will also be able to file a complaint against a business where staff or other patrons won’t comply with COVID-19 emergency health orders. Those who want to file a complaint against a business should call the City Clerk at (208) 608-7040. 

Boise’s guidance on its enforcement states: “The City of Boise will respond to resident complaints by inspecting city licensed businesses and referring businesses not licensed by the city to Central District Health. The city will inform the business that a complaint has been filed against them.”

For businesses that resist with the city’s follow-up efforts to advise and educate them on compliance, Boise will enforce penalties for those that continue to violate state law and municipal ordinances on public health measures: “Businesses licensed by the City of Boise that are found to pose a clear and immediate threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public may have their business license suspended for at least 10 days on the first violation, at least 20 days on the second violation and a year revocation on a third violation.”

During the Zoom meeting, the Mayor explained that the city is working out details on those who will be eligible for exemptions on wearing face masks. McLean also said that the Boise city government would evaluate these new provisions after “a few weeks” to consider the progress and effectiveness of the enforcement policies.

Also effective Nov. 23, several city facilities will close to the public. City Hall, City Hall West, City of Boise libraries, Boise WaterShed, Foothills Learning Center, Boise Depot, Boise Urban Garden School, Fort Boise Community Center and the James Castle House will all be temporarily closed to the public. The closures will last until at least Jan. 15.

Services will be offered remotely whenever possible, as they were during the previous Stage 2. Boise libraries will continue to offer curbside services and computer access.  

 Idaho IceWorld, the Boise Senior Center and Boise Municipal Pools will be closed through the summer of 2021.  Curbside lunch service will continue to be offered at the Senior Center for seniors who rely on this affordable lunch option.

The Idaho Business Review anticipates that additional guidance on this matter will be issued by the City of Boise and will update this article when it is issued.

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