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Aldermen Back Masking Order In St. Louis

The coalition Reform St. Louis, spearheaded by the League of Women Voters and Show Me Integrity, is seeking to build momentum for change at the municipal level.
City of St. Louis
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted Monday to extend the city's masking order.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a mask requirement in the city.

Aldermen voted without opposition Monday on a resolution supporting the latest public health order from acting health director Frederick Echols. A state law signed in June requires a vote by local lawmakers to extend pandemic-related public health orders beyond 30 days.

“We probably would all prefer if the doctor and the mayor’s office could make these orders in a more nimble fashion,” said 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar, who led the effort to pass the resolution. “But this is what we’re left with, this is what state law requires, and I’m glad we’re doing this, and I think it sends a strong message that we’re doing this unanimously.”

The latest order, issued Aug. 23, requires everyone 5 and older to wear masks while inside public places or on public transportation. There are exceptions for people who can’t remove a mask on their own or who are actively eating or drinking.

The resolution also requires the health department to provide aldermen a written report on the city’s vaccination efforts by Sept. 11.

“We’ve got to attack this in two ways, both vaccinations and continuing to mask,” Coatar said.

Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement she was grateful for the board’s actions and promised to work to increase the city’s vaccination rate, which is currently below 40%.

It’s not clear what impact the resolution will have on Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s lawsuit challenging the city’s original public health order as “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious, unconstitutional, and unlawful.”

Monday’s vote lacked the drama that has surrounded masking orders in St. Louis County. Board of Aldermen rules do not allow for public comment, eliminating the misinformation and conspiracy theories that are a hallmark of meetings of the St. Louis County Council.

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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