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LOCAL NEWS: Clatsop County Commission votes for mask requirement

LOCAL NEWS: Clatsop County Commission votes for mask requirement

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Wednesday night, the Clatsop County Commission voted unanimously during their online meeting to send a request to Governor Kate Brown asking that Clatsop be added to the list of counties statewide where face masks are required.

Clatsop will become the 8th county in the state to make mask wearing a requirement in indoor public spaces.

The commission had received requests from surrounding cities urging the commission to support a countywide mask requirement.

County Manager Dan Bohn said that public opinion the commission received on the subject was split 50-50 for and against masks. He said objections to the rule mostly came from people who did not want to be compelled by government order to wear masks.

Matthew Stanley, manager of the Astoria Co-op in Astoria, spoke in favor of the requirement during the public comment period.

Matt Stanley: “It will take the onus off of business operators and have a nice backbone to say, hey this is a government mandate. The other thing I want to add is that I think the majority of people who live here want this to be mandated. Unfortunately there is a very vocal minority that make it seem like there’s more people who don’t want it. That really isn’t the case. People want to be able to get back to as much of a normal life as possible. Masks, the scientific evidence is increasingly showing, allow us to do that with relative safety. But you have to have a critical mass of people wearing them, or it doesn’t work.”

Stanley said the Co-op has mandated masks since early on in the pandemic, but the state requirement would help them deal with people away who don’t want to comply. He said the county will need to figure out a way to advertise the requirement clearly with signage and other strategies, so visitors know they will need to mask up before entering a store.

After discussion, Commissioner Mark Kujala made the motion, which was seconded by Commisioner Lianne Thompson.

The commission also discussed whether the regulation should also require mask wearing out of doors in large gatherings, which the state does not currently require. Bohn said the county could decide to enact an emergency order to that effect down the line if they decided it was necessary to control community spread of the coronavirus.

I’m Joanne Rideout in Astoria.