Despite Bronson and his supporters, Masks are Mandatory
by carlos matías
• The Anchorage Assembly overrides the mayor’s veto of the Public Health Emergency Ordinance mandating the wearing of masks. • Save Anchorage has called for violence: “we will show them no respect” ... “we shall give them hell for what they have done”. Will there be charges for these threats?
Despite Republican Mayor Dave Bronson’s irresponsible veto and violent threats from his extremist and thuggish supporters, face masks are mandatory in Anchorage and will remain so until the massive Covid infection that has brought Alaska’s hospitals to collapse is overcome. The Public Health Emergency Ordinance passed by the Assembly makes it mandatory to wear them in public spaces, indoors, open areas or common spaces shared with people not living together in the same household, such as workplaces and businesses.
Despite Dave Bronson, face masks are mandatory in Anchorage as of Oct. 12 and until the danger of mass Covid infection passes. The day after the Public Health Emergency Ordinance passed by the Assembly went into effect, the city’s mayor has irresponsibly and recklessly wanted to veto it. But at a new meeting on Thursday, October 14, the Anchorage Assembly overrode his veto by a majority vote.
The use of face masks is and will be essential and inexcusable in public spaces, indoors, in areas open to the public and in common spaces shared with other people who do not live in the same household. And all, despite the violent and intolerable threats of fanatics and extremist supporters of Bronson, such as the ultra-right wing group Save Anchorage, who have called on their unconditional supporters to use violence against the majority will of the people: “we will not show them any respect” ... “we shall give them hell for what they have done” ...
Mandatory use in businesses The Ordinance dictates that employers “must ensure that employees who are present in the workplace have access to face masks or face shields and wear them when necessary.” The Ordinance will expire “when Anchorage has reached a point of sufficient medical capability; when there is no longer substantial or elevated transmission of the virus in the community, according to the CDC, for 14 consecutive days; or after 60 days without further action by the Assembly.” Businesses, employers and building owners must deny entry to anyone who fails to comply with this Emergency Ordinance while it remains in effect.
“Our hospitals and health care system are under tremendous stress right now and this helps reduce that stress,” said Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel, the Ordinance’s sponsor, referring to Alaska’s hospital collapse due to the violent resurgence of the pandemic, which has overwhelmed the state’s doctors and other health care professionals. “The majority of people in our community want to do what is best for the health of our city and we now have clear and reasonable guidelines, shaped by public feedback, that people can follow to keep our community safe.”
The Public Health Emergency Ordinance of the Anchorage Municipality Assembly (the highest democratic representative body of the city’s residents) states that “face masks or face coverings should rest comfortably above the nose, below the mouth and on the sides of the face. Persons who cannot tolerate a mask due to a physical or mental disability may request a reasonable accommodation and children five years of age or younger are exempt.” The Ordinance includes a complete list of exemptions.
A sign for all establishments to post at their entrances, as well as the full text of the Ordinance and a FAQ sheet are available and can be read at www.muni.org/Assembly.
Intimidating tactics Last October 12, after two weeks of public hearings and written and in-person testimony from thousands of Anchorage residents, the Anchorage Assembly passed this Emergency Ordinance with the goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and allowing our health care system to return to a stable level.
Covid has collapsed Alaska’s major hospitals for weeks now and has overwhelmed healthcare professionals, forced to put in endless days of many hours at a time to try to care for the sick, making an almost superhuman and highly commendable professional effort.
Public testimony played an important role in shaping the Emergency Ordinance that was introduced. But these two weeks of public hearing sessions were plagued by incidents and altercations, provoked by extremist Dave Bronson supporters. The Republican mayor is against the mandatory use of the masks and has been clearly permissive and “understanding,” if not “complicit,” in the intimidating maneuvers of his stalwart bullies against the neighbors who are in favor, and who were barely allowed to speak.
Once the new Assembly meeting was called on October 14 to overturn Dave Bronson’s veto, his ultra-right wing Save Anchorage supporters released this statement calling for renewed calls for violence. The full statement said this, verbatim: “The assembly disrespected the people saying they could testify on the mask mandate Wednesday. Instead, they passed the mask mandate in the dark of the night Tuesday without the people. Now they wish to override the mayor’s veto. We must all go to protest this ludicrously. We will not stand for this! They do not respect us, so we shall show them no respect. At the meeting let them know we will not comply. We will not let them speak without interruptions as they did not let us speak. On Thursday at 5pm we shall give them hell for what they have done.”
#StopHate Such is the climate of intimidation and violence that Dave Bronson’s fanatical followers have provoked, that last October 12 there was a peaceful rally at the doors of the Assembly under the slogan #StopHate. In the citizens’ act, several signs were read denouncing the climate of tension and confrontation provoked by the ultra-right wing group in the city. An appeal was made to the community to participate in the democratic process and not allow the current situation to continue.
Bronson issued a statement appealing for “mutual trust between doctors and patients.” But days earlier he and his acolytes compared the use of the masks to the yellow ribbons and markings that the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust. An intolerable and extemporaneous gesture for which the mayor and his supporters have not shown the slightest regret, but rather the opposite, thus fueling the tension.
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