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Boise Mayor McLean announces new COVID-19 health order, increased enforcement of face mask ordinance

According to the mayor's office, the health order requires face coverings, limits city board and commissions meetings, restricts access to the airport and more.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise Mayor Lauren McLean on Thursday announced a new health order that creates consequences for people and businesses that violate COVID-19 restrictions as well as restricts or closes some city facilities and businesses.

The new order will go into effect Monday, Nov. 23.

According to the mayor's office, the health order requires face coverings, limits city board and commission meetings, restricts access to the Boise Airport and a few other businesses in Boise, and beefs up enforcement against individuals and businesses who violate the order.

A mask ordinance is already in place for the city of Boise but was rarely enforced.

"Current community hospital models require immediate action to keep our community safe, ease the burden on the health care system and control community spread," the mayor’s office wrote in a press release. "What we are currently doing is not working. If we do not change our approach our health and our economy will suffer."

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City facilities including City Hall, City Hall West, City of Boise Libraries, Boise WaterShed, Foothills Learning Center, Boise Depot, Boise Urban Garden School, Fort Boise Community Center and the James Castle House will closed to the public through at least Jan. 15, 2021.

Idaho IceWorld, the Boise Senior Center, and Boise Municipal Pools will be closed through summer 2021.

City facility services will be conducted remotely when possible, and curbside lunch service will still be available at the Boise Senior Center.

Access to the Boise Airport will be limited to ticketed airline passengers, those accompanying airline passengers who need help with arrival or departure, people waiting in vehicles at passenger drop-off or pickup, or those in rental vehicles at airport pickup or dropoff locations.

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"The decision to close these facilities on a more permanent basis was made with the safety of our staff and our community as the immediate priority," the mayor's office wrote in a press release. "Additionally, the City of Boise reviewed the budget implications of maintaining and operating these facilities when making this decision."

City leaders say they want to help businesses that are following coronavirus protocols and hold those that are not to account. Boise Police will be available to cite or arrest people who refuse to comply with a business' protocols once that person has been asked to leave. Officers will respond at businesses' request.

Residents will also be able to file complaints about businesses that are not following public health orders by calling 208-608-7040. Complaints will trigger inspections by the city, and businesses that are deemed to pose "a clear and immediate threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public" face losing their license to operate.

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Such businesses will have their license suspended for at least 10 days on the first violation, at least 20 days on the second violation and a year revocation on a third violation.

During a call with the news media Thursday afternoon, McLean said she has no interest in shutting businesses down, but it may be necessary if they don't comply with the order.

"It is our intent to keep businesses open," she said. "It's our goal to keep business open and protect public health. So we're taking this step, and with new hooks of business licensing, to ensure that we can protect the public health and protect businesses that are operating responsibly in this tough time."

The health order does not contain a blanket closure of bars, restaurants, stores or other businesses. The order was rolled out after McLean held a briefing with health leaders who warned of cases surging beyond hospitals' ability to care for all the infected, and urged the mayor to strengthen the city's existing COVID-19 response.

McLean said during her Zoom call with the media Thursday afternoon that she hopes other city, county and state leaders will also implement tougher restrictions.

"We're doing what we can here, impacting what we can impact, which is the city of Boise," she said. "But healthcare professionals have made it clear that one city alone can't do everything needed to slow the spread of the virus and ensure that there's room in the hospitals. So I hope that around the valley around the state we'll continue to see leaders step up and take action to protect the health of those in our communities and those we love."

Idaho Gov. Brad Little ordered the state rolled back to Stage 2 last week, but did not order business closures, a mask mandate, or travel restrictions.

For more information on the city's plan, click here.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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