HASTINGS – The Hastings City Council discussed a city wide mask policy going forward at Monday’s worksession. Mayor Corey Stutte said he had spoken with other Mayors and they all decided that a mask policy should be consistent throughout the Tri-Cities. The Kearney and Grand Island City Councils will also be discussing a mask policy at their upcoming meetings. Mayor Stutte echoed what Governor Ricketts has been saying, that this is about protecting the hospital capacity.
And we want to keep our first responders safe. I think that’s really a top priority here. It’s not just, you know, the death rate. That’s what I hear a lot of people talking about. What we’re focused on is making sure that there’s enough capacity here to take care of people who are sick, especially as we head into the flu season.
Stutte reminded everyone that if the risk dial continues to worsen, businesses and gatherings will be further restricted. City Administrator Dave Ptak reiterated that this will not shut down businesses.
It simply requires any indoor place where the public may be present, to wear a mask. And that’s where the most danger is. Is the confined spaces and close knit, oftentimes, relationships that go on in those situations. So this is an attempt to help flatten the curve. This will be consistent with Kearney and Grand Island.
He said it’s not about enforcement or handing out tickets either, it’s about educating people and seeking voluntary compliance. City Council members Scott Snell and Paul Hamelink both said that this is not political but it is necessary and sensible at this point.
Not everybody will be happy about this. Not everybody thinks there’s a pandemic going on. At the end of my block, where I live, there were signs a week ago talking about a fake pandemic. Perhaps they needed to visit some of the fake patients in the hospital or see some of the fake graves in our cemetery. But nonetheless, there are people who have issues with what is happening so there will be push back on this.
The mask policy will be on the agenda for next Monday’s city council meeting. The policy would last ninety days and it can be rescinded if the situation improves or can be extended if it doesn’t. While some questions were raised about specifics of the policy, the council seemed to be in favor of it.