The city of Branson’s Board of Aldermen voted to repeal the city’s masking mandate but it won’t take effect for 60 days.
The Board voted 4-2 for a repeal on May 24. The no votes came from Alderman Larry Milton, running for the Mayor’s seat against incumbent Edd Akers, and Julia King.
CoxHealth physician Shawn Usery spoke to the Board asking for them to extend the mask mandate a “little longer” because of the impact visitors coming to Branson could have on the spread of the virus.
“As more people come to Branson, it is likely without a mitigation strategy that number of cases will begin to rise again for both locals and for visitors,” Usery said. “In addition to putting our community at risk, this could possibly hurt Branson’s desirability as a tourist destination.”
“We need a masking ordinance for just a bit longer,” Usery added. “Until we get sufficient numbers of our community members vaccinated.”
Councilman Milton objected to the process, saying most citizens were not aware of what was going on with the bill because of the changes being made so close to the meeting.
“The majority of the people about to speak are unaware of these changes to this ordinance,” Milton said during discussion of the issue. “I’m trying to let the public know before they start to speak what it is that we just proposed because they don’t know. Our agenda on the website did not say it was revised. So anyone who read this ordinance…has no idea.”
“We are not voting on something tonight to repeal it immediately, which the public believes,” Milton said, “We’re talking about something that’s effective May 9th.”
Milton moved after public comment to have the ordinance take effect immediately, but the motion died from a lack of second.
Alderman Jeff Seay made a motion to move the date from May 9th to May 24th, because he said that vaccines may not be available to get the city’s front-line workers their second shots.
Alderman King said that working in healthcare she can’t vote for something that would harm her field of work the next day. She said she can’t support a repeal until the statistics show it would be safe to get rid of masks.
Milton then had city staff confirm that a “future” board could revisit the delay and was informed that a future board could bring a new ordinance to supercede this ordinance.