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Jefferson County sheriff won’t enforce mask ordinance


Health department board votes to rescind mask ordinance less than 24 hours later

Following a vote by the Jefferson County Health Department Board of Trustees to mandate masks in public places, Sheriff Dave Marshak said his office would not be enforcing the order.

Shortly after the declaration, the board voted to rescind the ordinance.

“The Sheriff’s Office is not the enforcement arm of the Health Department’s ‘mask order,’ and therefore will not take enforcement action on those that choose not to comply,” Marshak told The Missouri Times. 

He encouraged anyone with concerns over the order or issues of non-compliance to contact the Health Department directly. He also said his office had not received previous notice that it was a consideration before Thursday’s vote.

“We are committed to prioritizing our activities on other matters that keep Jefferson County citizens safe,” Marshak said.

Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman sent a letter to the County Health Department Friday requesting the public release of the ordinance and accusing it of “overstepping.”

“I am writing to express my concerns about the process last night regarding the mask ordinance,” Coleman said. “Reasonable minds can differ on the appropriateness of a mask ordinance but we all agree that all government actions must not overstep due process as we work to protect the public health and preserve the people’s rights.”

She told The Missouri Times she is “angry people are being asked to comply with something they have not seen.” 

The issue passed after a five-hour meeting Thursday evening by a vote of 3-2. The order included social distancing measures and crowd limits. The Jefferson County Health Department subsequently voted to rescind the mask ordinance in a closed, special meeting Friday afternoon.

Jefferson County joined a growing list of Missouri communities to have passed mask requirements, including St. Louis, Kansas City, and Branson. 

Gov. Mike Parson has repeatedly stressed his belief in local control on many pandemic-related decisions including mask ordinances, leaving it up to individual communities rather than enacting a statewide mask mandate. He’s encouraged personal responsibility and told citizens they should wear masks and social distance but has stayed away from any statewide ordinance. 

Jefferson County’s mask ordinance was set to go into effect on Aug. 31. It would apply to those at least 5 years old in public places who were unable to accommodate social distancing practices.  

Jefferson County has seen 2,324 positive cases of COVID-19, and 30 residents have died.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report. This story has been updated. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.