WILDWOOD, Mo. (KMOV.com) - Wildwood, Eureka and Chesterfield officials will not enforce the mask mandate going into effect in St. Louis County come Monday.
Earlier Friday, St. Louis City and County announced that everyone 5 and older must wear a mask in public indoor settings, whether they are vaccinated or not. The order does not apply to someone when they are eating and drinking at a restaurant or if they have a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask. The order comes amid rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations both in the St. Louis area and Missouri as the Delta variant spreads.
Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin tells News 4 the city's resources will not be used to enforce St. Louis County's mask mandate. He says businesses should still have the power to decide whether they require masks or not for patrons, but they will not be penalizing businesses that do not mask wearing a requirement.
"When we see a rule like this latest mask mandate that's simply based on an uptick somewhere that we maybe want to get ahead of, and COVID is not going to go away, which means if this is going to be the standard, we'll be doing this in perpetuity and that's simply isn't practical or workable,” said Bowlin.
Bowlin could not speak to whether or not he thinks the county will step in to enforce the mandate if Wildwood authorities do not.
“It’s a St. Louis County enforcement issue. It’s not a Wildwood enforcement issue, and so what I’m saying is, I don’t think our residents need to be told to mask up or to social distance or what have you,” said Bowlin. “So as far as Wildwood is concerned, using our resources to enforce a county rule, we don’t plan to do that.”
While the threat of the Delta variant remains high for the state, Bowlin worries that attempts to make all people wear a mask regardless of vaccination status takes away a major incentive for getting the vaccine.
“I’m concerned that that requirement could actually discourage people from becoming vaccinated,” said Bowlin.
Eureka also joined the city of Wildwood in choosing not to enforce the use of masks indoors. Eureka Mayor Sean Flower posted about his concerns with St. Louis County’s mandate on Facebook. He said in part:
I believe that the County needs to step back from this heavy-handed approach, and after nearly 16 months of mandates allow people to make their own health decisions. Vague restrictions imposed without legislative oversight and with no end dates, milestones, or goal posts have to stop. The County's efforts have largely been ineffective (our rates on key health metrics generally are worse than surrounding counties). There have been options for to obtain a vaccine since February, especially for those with the most critical need. There is even a statewide contest with prizes if you get a shot right now. The vast majority of people can choose to protect themselves if they want.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he will be filing a lawsuit in an effort to stop the upcoming mask mandate for St. Louis City and County.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt says he plans to sue to stop the mandate from going into effect. Under a law recently signed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a local government can block a public health order by majority vote. St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch says he plans to push for the county council to vote to stop the mandate from going into effect, but he has not said if he has majority support on the council.
Chesterfield officials say they will not enforce the mask mandate saying they have no authority to do so. In December, Chesterfield police said they would not enforce COVID-19 restrictions that were in place at the time in St. Louis County. Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nations told News 4 he encourages mask wearing and vaccinations. Chesterfield's City Attorney sent News 4 the following statement:
The City of Chesterfield has no legal authority to enforce the County Health order. Our first responders will certainly respond to any call in an effort to keep the peace, but we have no ability to enforce County health orders.
Chesterfield police will not enforce the COVID-19 restrictions put in place by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, the department announced Wednesday.