State College Borough Council signs into effect emergency indoor mask mandate

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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – An ordinance requiring that masks be worn inside public businesses and facilities was signed into effect on Sept. 15 by State College mayor Ron Filippelli and council president Jesse Barlow.

“As the CDC states, in highly transmissible areas like Centre County, it’s the best advice to wear masks indoors,” said assistant to the manager Douglas Shontz.

In a 3-0 unanimous vote, the State College Board of Health recommended that council adopt on an emergency ordinance for indoor masking, which they did Monday night.

“To make sure that we limit the spread, really take into consideration the public health needs of the community and make sure we’re doing what we can within our capacity to help continue the fight against this virus,” said Shontz.

But not everyone was for the new mandate.

Avi Rachlin with Penn State Resistance called the ordinance “silly.”

“Since August 23’rd a grand total of 2 people [in Centre County] have died of Covid… 2? 2! I don’t believe masks work against COVID-19 and neither do the manufacturers, that’s why on every label, of blue ear loop masks, it says quote, ‘warning this product is an ear loop mask. This product is not a respirator and will not provide any protection against COVID-19 or other viruses or contaminants’…many of you are wearing them on this city council panel,” said Rachlin.

While differing opinions stand on the matter, manager Jen Heller at Growing Tree Toys in downtown State College says everyone so far has been more than willing to mask up before coming inside to shop.

“People around here are great about always supporting their local businesses through everything, and we also accommodate our shoppers by providing curb-side pick up if they don’t feel comfortable coming inside the store,” said Heller.

Heller says she was happy to hear about the ordinance to mask indoors, because it’s something Growing Tree Toys and sister store Animal Kingdom have been doing religiously since March 2020.

“So I’m glad that we now have other people who are also behind doing this because most of our customers are 12 years-old and younger. So It’s really important since our under 12 population can’t be vaccinated that we protect them. So even though we are vaccinated we need to still mask just to keep the safe,” said Heller.

While Heller admits that she too is a little tired of the masks…

“If it’s going to keep more people safe and healthy, it’s a small sacrifice,” said Heller.

Over at Appalachian Outdoors, manager Tyler Long also says community members have been more than receptive to the new requirement.

“Most people have said oh my I’m sorry or I didn’t know I had no idea, and then we offer them a free mask if they don’t have one. I mean hey anything that gets us back to normal,” said Long.

According to the borough the emergency mask mandate will be in effect until November 22.

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