Provo Municipal Council overrides mayor's veto on face mask ban 03

Barber Kohl Ellsworth sports a face mask as he cuts and styles the hair of Janessa Gonzales, of Provo, at The Man Barber in downtown Provo on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Since the implementation of a mask mandate in Provo, its necessity and enforcement has garnered plenty of reaction.

The mandate requires members of the public to wear face coverings in publicly accessible places, and varies whether individuals find themselves indoors or outdoors. Those violating Provo’s mandate could face a $55 fine, while event organizers who do not follow the ordinance could face a $500 fine.

Business owners are required to post signage on their front entrance as part of the mandate. For local business owners Tosh Metzger of Provo Florists, and Chad Pritchard of Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria, that is exactly what they did.

While signage has been posted, per the mandate, Metzger takes a business owner’s mentality while following the rules laid out by the city council.

“We just put a sign on the door, but if someone comes in without a mask and they’re giving me money, I’m not going to turn them away,” Metzger said. “I’m a businessman. I just wear my mask and keep my distance. I tell my employees the same. If they (the public) don’t wear a mask, it’s fine.”

Metzger added that it is not his job to enforce the mandate or push moral codes on customers.

Pritchard is in the same boat as Metzger. He said Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria has posted a sign on their front door but they will not be enforcing or implementing the mandate at his business.

“It’s not our job to implement or enforce, that’s for the city council,” Pritchard said.

While patrons who choose not to wear masks at these businesses will not be stopped, Metzger did add that he is a proponent of masks.

“To me it’s a simple thing to keep people healthy,” Metzger said. “We’re in this together, let’s wear it and the sooner we do it, the sooner we get it over with. I don’t see it as a control thing, I see it as a health thing.”

Like many businesses, Provo Florist has put in place added precautions in order to keep the store clean and keep customers and employees healthy. This includes disinfecting surfaces and providing hand sanitizer for their customers.

One of the major aspects of the mask mandate for Metzger was that it took some of the blame off business owners like himself. Instead of individual store owners having to enforce their own rules, they now operate under the auspices of the city’s mandate.

Per Provo city’s 311 line, enforcement of the mask mandate is left to the city’s police department, and complaints can be reported to the city website.

Provo Police Chief Rich Ferguson spoke during a city council meeting on Aug. 18 on his concerns surrounding enforcement.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Ferguson said. “This department has been trying to build trust with the community. The realist in me says with my force, we can’t contact every member of the community.”

He added that none of his colleagues along the Wasatch Front have issued citations due to not following a mask ordinance.

He then went on to say there are few ways the police department could enforce the mandate.

“I would much rather, and highly recommend, that we continue to do it through education,” Ferguson said. “It would be putting an overwhelming burden on us to now go out and try to enforce a mask mandate.”

Calls to the Provo Police Department inquiring about mask enforcement and fines were not immediately returned.

The mask mandate is set to expire on Nov. 15 unless the city council extends it by Oct. 20.