Lansing extends mask order through April

Special to the Times

Lansing City Council members voted 5-3 Tuesday to extend the city’s mask mandate through April. However, their action could be complicated by a Senate bill that would strip the governor of her executive actions, including a mask mandate.

Council members’ arguments were pretty much repeats of their appeals at last week’s regular meeting, except that this time, member Dave Trinkle said he wanted to extend the mandate. He was quiet on the topic last week, though he had voted to extend it previously.

He, as well as Gene Kirby, Kerry Brungardt, Ron Dixon and Don Studnicka, voted to extend it. Voting to let it expire were Jesse Garvey, Gregg Buehler and Marcus Majure.

This time, however, Garvey noted that while probably the majority of emails and letters council members received wanted the extension, that wasn’t what he was seeing on social media. He also argued that many of the council members were in the military and fought for individual rights, which he contends the mandate violates.

Kirby said that’s not what he’s seeing on social media, and he cited statistics counter to ones mentioned earlier about the scarcity of cases in the county. He pointed out the number of cases in the metro area are four times what they were this time last year. He wonders what spring break will do to the numbers.

Buehler argued that it would be confusing to residents, since Leavenworth has let its ordinance expire. He also thinks it could hurt the city’s economy, since shoppers might decide to go to Leavenworth, where there is no mandate.

While wearing a mask might be a “minor inconvenience,” Dixon said, it could possibly save someone’s life, and that would be worth it.

Mayor Tony McNeil said the Senate bill referenced by attorney Greg Robinson could mean the city would have to vote on the issue again at the end of March. That’s because the ordinance references the executive action by the governor regarding masks. If that’s null and void by the Legislature’s actions, it could mean the city’s extension would be null and void as well. The city would have to come up with a study that validates the use of masks, Robinson said.