The Anchorage Assembly this evening is likely to take up, for a third time, the issue of government mandating the wearing of face masks in public to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel, the Anchorage Daily News reports, wants Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to use his emergency powers to order use of the masks inside businesses and in other public places lacking social distancing. Berkowitz during a Friday briefing said the mask question would be on the table if COVID-19 numbers continue to increase.
How Zaletel’s resolution will fare if offered is anybody’s guess. It runs up against a wall of resistance from those who believe wearing face masks is an individual decision, not a government choice; that it should be voluntary, not dictated.
Even if it were mandated it would be, as Berkowitz and others have noted, nigh unto impossible to enforce, and do we really want our police resources spent hunting down maskless shoppers?
It is easy to see both sides of the issue, but as we watch Anchorage businesses struggling because the general public rightfully remains nervous about eating at restaurants, or shopping or going anyplace where there are more than a few people, it is clear something must give.
Perhaps if more of us accepted the science involved – that masks work – and voluntarily wore the masks in close quarters we could allay many of the public’s fears and get the economy moving again while at the same time protecting ourselves and our most vulnerable from the spread of the virus.
It just seems an exercise in common sense to us.