Mayor, trustee disagree over mask enforcement
A disagreement over the ability of the village of Fredonia to require use of face masks brewed between Mayor Doug Essek and trustee James Lynden at Monday’s Village Board meeting.
Lynden said the mayor should reinstate a declaration of emergency that would give the village the traction to crack down on those not wearing a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the infection rate of COVID-19 escalating heavily in the county and significantly all around us, we still have the community under a lot of restrictions,” Lynden said. “The director of the National Institute of Infectious Disease made a recommendation that local government leaders be as forceful as possible when urging the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of this deadly disease. So what I’m asking again as I have in the past is that the mayor reinstates the emergency declaration in the village so that he can use that within our community and going beyond what the other recommendations are from around the state.”
Lynden said he is concerned that with the area entering into fall shortly that people from all over the country will be coming to check out SUNY Fredonia — thus open the area up to more possible infection.
“It’s another reason to reinforce that our mayor states that we absolutely have to wear masks while going into public areas and into businesses,” Lynden said. “I think it’s imperative to keeping this under control within our community. We’ve done a fairly good job, but I think from what I see all around us it’s getting really, really bad and I think we need to be proactive, not reactive.”
“The safety of our residents and all our employees of the village are my top concern,” Essek said. “Right now we are following all the guidelines from the state. I really don’t see that a state of emergency has anything to do with wearing masks.”
Lynden disagreed. He said such a declaration would give Essek the power to enforce it more.
“You can make a statement that they have to within this community. It protects the community that much more,” Lynden said.
“Right now the state and federal government have passed regulations on mask usage,” Essek said. “I’m not sure how enforceable that is. I can’t imagine that if I made a ruling that everybody would have to wear masks all the time, how that will be enforced. I continue to encourage and I think that’s the best way to do this here, to encourage instead of asking a martial law type thing on our residents.”
Lynden interrupted Essek, stating that his request is not martial law to which Essek grew irritated and replied that he wasn’t done yet with his statement, asking Lynden not to interrupt him.
“This is something that I don’t know how it could be enforced,” Essek said. “I realize that masks are important, they need to be used as well as social distancing. We will continue to follow state guidelines and county guidelines. If it dictates I will call another state of emergency, but masks are controlled by the state.”
“The state of emergency doesn’t have anything to do with requirements for the masks,” Police Chief Philip Maslak added. “The mask requirements are from the state and are changing. The last couple of weeks the requirement now is that the business owner does not allow anyone without a mask into their business.”
The topic was dropped shortly after.