Diak rescinds mask mandate

Page Mayor Bill Diak speaking at the City Hall Chamber March 29, 2021

PAGE – Mayor Bill Diak on Thursday rescinded all COVID-19 mandated restrictions for the City of Page.

The move complies with Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order lifting all COVID-19 safety restrictions for Arizona. The order also strips power from cities, towns, and counties to enforce safety precautions such as mask mandates and crowd sizes at public events.

Businesses, institutions, and organizations still have the right to set and enforce safety policies to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

What Ducey did not rescind was the March 11, 2020, declaration of a Public Health Emergency. It’s still in place.

Diak, in a statement, said he still supports all recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and “hopes that people will act in the best interest of all concerned.”

Diak said, “As Mayor, I fully support our governor’s decision to move into the next stage of recovery from this terrible pandemic. I want to stress to all that businesses in Page still have the right to expect face coverings in their establishment, and I hope that all will be respectful of those that expect this.”

Other cities weren’t as receptive to Ducey’s actions. Flagstaff and Tucson are defying the order and continuing with mask mandates. Flagstaff’s mayors and city council members are meeting with attorneys to explore their options. Tempe and Phoenix are also looking at legal options.

The Flagstaff City Council on Saturday reacted to Ducey’s executive order in a statement: “Yesterday alone, 32 Arizonans died from COVID-19. Only 16% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated. Executive Order 2021-06 is not in the best interest of public health and further erodes home rule.

“COVID-19 continues to spread with many variants, and the City Council remains committed to seeing our community reach collective immunity through vaccination. Ensuring public health and keeping our community safe is our fundamental responsibility and priority.”

Texas lifted their COVID-19 safety measures and prohibited cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates and social distancing. Travis County and Austin issued safety orders in defiance of the state’s action.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued them, attempting to block the COVID-19 mask mandate. A district judge denied Paxton’s temporary restraining order. It’s expected that the state will ultimately win the battle, but the court battle buys more time to get people vaccinated.

In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, “Every day that we can keep the local health authority mask mandate in place is a victory.” 

Adler said in a statement, “For however long the city’s mask mandate is in effect, our community is more safe because the message is clear that masking works and is effective. Just the court’s delayed ruling, being in force during this past spring break, has been a victory for doctors and data over politics.”

Ducey’s executive order lists one of the reasons for rescinding restrictions now is “the federal government has promised that every American will have the opportunity to be vaccinated by May 1, 2021.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation, “When you’re coming down from a big peak, and you reach a point and start to plateau – once you stay at that plateau – you’re really in danger of a surge coming up. Unfortunately, that’s what we’re starting to see.”

Fauci said new variants of COVID-19 play a part in the struggle to control the virus, but relaxing disease-mitigating efforts play a larger role.

The CDC recommends people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.



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