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Sierra Vista business owner George Broxton said he supports the city's new mask directives. "To me a mask is protecting me as much as it is the public," he said. "I’m all for it, in fact I have a mask in my pocket right now. As soon as I finish here I’ll put it on.”

SIERRA VISTA — The mayor of Sierra Vista declared a state of emergency in the city Friday afternoon, with a mandate that face masks are now required in public.

The City Council voted unanimously to allow Mayor Rick Mueller to make the emergency declaration. Mueller said he did not arrive at his decision easily, but found it imperative because of the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the area.

“Commercial establishments have until midnight July 1 to comply with the order,” according to a press release from the city.

“All schools, childcare centers, nonprofits that provide food or shelter, and houses of worship are requested to establish and publish their own guidelines for the proper wearing of face coverings or shields in spaces that are accessible to the public.”

“Cases of COVID-19 are increasing rapidly throughout our state and we have community spread in Sierra Vista,” Mueller said in the release. “I want to commend our citizens who have proactively practiced precautionary measures in the last several weeks and months. We must ask our citizens to be even more vigilant.”

“Data supports the use of face coverings as a vital measure to slow the spread of COVID-19 and now is the time to do everything we can to protect our community,” Mueller said in the release.

“This requirement will remain in place until we see downward trends in positive cases, or until the state takes an action that lifts or supersedes our local authority.”

Mueller said during the meeting he was told by officials at Canyon Vista Medical Center that while there is still capacity to treat people who have the virus, the hospital’s ethics board also has started training on what to do when that capacity to treat those infected with the virus begins to wane.

Mueller explained that the ethics board is the panel that must decide who gets into the hospital to be treated, and who doesn’t.

“We’re not in that situation yet, but the fact that they’re already beginning to train, gives me pause. It should give all of us pause,” Mueller said.

Curtis said “in public” is defined as indoor spaces that are overseen by the city of Sierra Vista where the public is allowed to enter; outdoor spaces such as parks, playgrounds, parking lots, and other areas such as places where the public would gather while waiting to enter an establishment; and in or on public transportation.

Anyone over the age of 10 is required to wear a mask as much as possible, the mayor said.

Not wearing the mask could also get you in trouble with the law.

Curtis provided this statement: “Enforcement of this order will focus first on education to promote best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Before any enforcement action is taken, a person shall be notified of the violation and be given an opportunity to comply. Refusal to comply may result in a citation for a class 1 misdemeanor.”

City to close some indoor facilitiesThe City of Sierra Vista will close some indoor facilities that reopened when the state moved into phase 1 of its reopening plan, according to the press release.

The Cove and all city lobbies are now closed until further notice.

The Vista Transit Center will remain open, while the number of people in the building will be limited to ensure safe physical distancing can be maintained. Transit service will continue under current operations, with the additional policy that drivers will not allow riders to board unless they are wearing a face covering.

Outdoor facilities currently open will remain open.

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