Safford City Council to talk mask policy

David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central. Safford Mayor Jason Kouts listens to input from City Council members on how to spend CARES Act funding during a council meeting.

SAFFORD — Following Gov. Doug Ducey’s declaration Wednesday that cities and counties may enact regulations requiring facemasks to be worn in public during the COVID-19 pandemic, Safford Mayor Jason Kouts said he’s ready to begin discussion.

“I have requested that an item be added to the City Council agenda scheduled for Monday, June 22, to discuss this issue. In the meantime, the city will continue its ongoing efforts designed and implemented to stem the spread of COVID-19. These efforts are in keeping with the governor’s latest executive order,” Kouts said in a statement to Gila Valley Central.

He added that the city continues to adhere to CDC-recommended physical distancing guidelines, has implemented increased sanitizing of areas open to the public and city workspaces, and is routinely adjusting operations to maintain public and employee safety.

“During the June 22 council meeting, we will discuss other items contained in the governor’s executive order, such as guidance to the business community regarding the latest executive order,” Kouts said.

“It is important to remember that the executive (order) is specifically designed to provide flexibility at the local level. While the number of cases has increased in our region, the magnitude of the changes we are experiencing does not warrant operational changes at this time. Should conditions change, we will revisit the issue and discuss any potential adjustments that may be required. Our managers will continue to meet regularly to monitor the situation and provide and additional guidance.”

In a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Doug Ducey said that businesses must establish and implement distancing and disinfecting protocols, with a mandate that businesses must protect the health of employees and customers.

“Serious changes are needed to be made, and there will be enforcement around those changes. So I encourage all business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs to review that guidance,” Ducey said, though he did not specify how enforcement would take place or what penalties could be levied for failure to comply.

The Safford City Council will meet Monday, June 22, at 6 p.m. in the Safford Library program room.