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Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announces new COVID-19 policies for events

McLean's address comes as infections continue to spike across the state, where just half of those eligible are fully vaccinated.

BOISE, Idaho — All events permitted by the City of Boise or held in city-owned buildings must adhere to a new set of COVID-19 protocols going forward, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announced. 

Starting Friday, those events must require masks indoors, require masks outdoors if six feet of physical distance can not be maintained, and submit a plan to the city for approval, and requiring "COVID-19 Protocol Ambassadors" on-site. In addition, the mayor said, all events over 250 people must require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test. 

Event organizers will be tasked with supplying masks to those who do not have them. 

McLean stopped short of implementing another mask order for the entire City of Boise, as she did in the early days of the pandemic. That mask order was lifted in May after case rates fell. 

The mayor noted Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccination rates in Boise stand at 65%, as compared to just over 50% statewide. Targeting stricter protocols to events in the city made the most sense, she said.

"Over the course of the last 18 months, we have learned so much about what is necessary and needed," McLean said. "When looking at policies and impact we can have to protect those within our community and also help the hospitals out, this seems to be and we believe it is the best step we can take at the local level."

The new policy will not apply to Boise State football games, private events, or those events that do not require a city permit or are not held on City of Boise property. 

The mayor's address comes as infections continue to spike across the state, with 1,436 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths Monday. McLean called on state leadership to take action to slow the spread of the virus, arguing that inaction elsewhere affects Boise as well.

"What is needed is a regional approach and a state approach, because this virus crosses zip codes," she said. "The regional hospitals are in our city."

North Idaho has already entered into crisis standards of care, in which hospitals do not have enough ventilators, beds, or staff to care for everyone who is sick. Doctors in the Treasure Valley have warned that the rest of Idaho may soon follow if the surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations does not slow down.

More than 95% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. 

McLean thanked the Boise residents who have done their part to protect themselves and their neighbors by getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

In the briefing, the mayor left the door open to enact stricter protocols for the City of Boise at a later date.

"We will make additional decisions if we must," she said. 

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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