BOISE, Idaho — The Central District Health board is set to vote Friday afternoon on a proposed public health order for Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties.
The draft order looks similar, but not identical, to the public health advisory that is already in place.
If approved by the board, the order would limit social gatherings - both public and private - to fewer than 10 people, with exemptions for religious services and educational activities.
Masks would be required - both indoors and outdoors - when physical distancing is not possible. Exceptions include children under age 2, people who have certain medical conditions, and anyone who is obtaining a service involving the nose, face or head - such as dental work.
Businesses would be strongly encouraged to implement delivery or curbside pick-up services, and additional restrictions would be placed on restaurants, bars, breweries, taprooms, wineries and distilleries.
Visits to long term care facilities, jails and prisons would be prohibited while the order is in effect.
Organized youth and adult sports and activities in which physical distancing of 6 feet is not possible would be prohibited.
Since the CDH board voted on Tuesday to draft the order, we've been getting a lot of questions from viewers about it. Here's what we found out:
Question: Why does it seem the new proposed order includes everything that is already in place?
Answer: Although it may seem that way, Central District Health's current advisory serves as a recommendation, while public health order is enforceable.
The draft order includes this: "Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order could constitute a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both."
Also, many components of the order are already in place, but only for Ada County. The proposed order would expand the restrictions to the rest of CDH's jurisdiction - in Boise, Elmore and Valley counties.
For example, Ada and Valley counties already have a mask mandate in place. If the order is approved, Boise and Elmore counties would also require face coverings.
Question: Why are they forcing masks instead of education on how to properly wear masks?
Answer: CDH says education has been the strategy all along, but given the continued rise in cases, education alone is not enough.
In the order, there is a lengthy section about to properly wear a mask: it should fit close to the face with no large gaps, and it should completely cover the nose and mouth.
The order states that cloth masks made with tightly-woven fabric, like cotton or cotton blends, are acceptable, along with medical and non-medical disposable masks. Masks with a valve, openings, holes or gaps, would be considered a violation.
Question: Why is it okay to have [dozens of] students in a school bus with no way to keep them socially distanced?
Answer: In a statement, the health district told KTVB in part, "Education is a priority and some students rely on busing to receive that educational opportunity. While busing does pose a risk, communities unwilling to follow guidance are putting those students at higher risk by elevating community spread [of the virus]."
The order states that gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited, except for religious or educational activities. And when inside a school, face-coverings are required at all times regardless of whether physical distancing can be maintained - that is, unless a person is alone in a private office with doors closed or for educators when providing instruction to students and a distance of 10-feet can be maintained.
Friday's board meeting is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m. We will carry it live on KTVB.COM and on the KTVB YouTube channel.
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