Health Department COVID 19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr spoke frankly about today’s Missoula Board of Health meeting in which a mandatory masking policy is expected to be instituted.

“The proposal that is to be considered is to make face coverings mandatory for people who are over the age of 12, with some exceptions for people who are developmentally unable to wear a face covering, or have a condition that prohibits one,” said Farr. “This is for any public place in Missoula County.”

Farr said once the policy is passed the onus will be on the local business to let their customers know they must comply.

“Right now, it is going to be up to the business owners to say you have to follow the mandate if you’re going to come in to my place of business,” she said. “If somebody really wants to become hostile towards them, then they have the ability to call 9-1-1 and have the police come and escort an unruly patron out of their place of business.”

Farr considered the possibility that some will say the mandatory masking policy violates their civil liberties.

“I know there are people that say we are taking away a civil right or liberty by making them wear a cloth face covering,” she continued. “At the same time, somebody can’t walk into a business and light up a cigarette and say ‘well, I get to smoke in your place of business because it’s my right.’ We’re just trying to do what we can to protect the public, and it should be the same as ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service.’

The Missoula County Board of Health will consider the proposal along with other matters at their meeting on Thursday morning.