CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– The Patton Township board voted 3-2 during a meeting Monday to draft a new mask ordinance due to a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Previously throughout August 2020 until the spring of 2021, Patton Township did have a mask ordinance requiring them to be worn in public places. However, Township Manager Doug Erickson pointed out that the previous one had statewide directives as well as guidance from the governor’s office and the CDC so the question of how they would enforce the mandate remains.

“Currently none of those bodies have issued any directives or guidance,” Erickson said. “So the basis for enforcing a regulation of this matter is a large question mark. If someone wanted to contest it they would go to the district judge. The district judge would take evidence to see if there is a valid basis for the ordinance.”

Erickson added though that drafting a new ordinance along with spreading the word of the meeting and waiting the required seven days will take “at least a couple of weeks.”

A problem they face is with enforcement. Currently, State College is the only municipal to have a masking ordinance in effect and even though it ends Jan 31, it is expected to be extended but Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said that it “has been virtually unenforceable.” The board believes that this will also become a problem for them.

“I agree with the proposal, but if its not enforceable I don’t think that we should pass something that’s not going to be enforceable,” Supervisor Sultan Magruder said. “I think it sets a bad precedent moving forward. I would be in a favor of a resolution though. At the very least it’s signaling that this board takes COVID-19, this pandemic seriously and we’re requesting that businesses and individuals do what they can to protect the community. It’s sort of up to the moral code I guess of individuals and businesses that for whether or not they’re going to take that resolution and make some policies.”

Supervisor Betsy Whitman came up with the idea for a new ordinance and is expected to include some of the same ordinances from the previous one. She also included that the board should hold a special meeting to announce the ordinance instead of waiting till the end of the month for their regularly scheduled time.

For now, there has been no date announced yet for the meeting but there are plans for the mandate to be in effect until March 31.

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