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Mask mandate passes in St. Francois County

It'll go into effect on Sept. 21

ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, Mo. — A mask mandate passed in another Missouri county on Tuesday.

St. Francois County's health department voted 3-1 to pass the mask mandate during an emergency meeting.

According to the order, face coverings must be worn by anyone over the age of 9 including employees or visitors at any business or public space; when outdoors in a public space when anyone other than members of their household or living unit will be within 6 feet; and when attending a gathering of individuals who are not members of their household in any area which will necessarily involve close contact or close proximity to other when six feet of separation is not feasible. 

The restriction does not apply to gatherings at personal residences.

The order will remain in place until at least Oct. 22, which is the next meeting of the St. Francois County Health Center Board of Trustees.

“On Monday we will implement an order that affects public spaces," said St. Francois County Health Center Director Amber Elliott.

Elliott said fines for not wearing masks could be on the table.

"So yesterday in the County Commission meeting the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff talked about how busy they are and how they wouldn't be able to enforce the order," said Elliott.

Elliott still says there could be a way to implement fines. 

“If it would come to that the health department would have to use civil proceedings to do a fine," added Elliott.

It would be the first county in our area to implement a fine for not wearing a mask.

The decision is in stark contrast to St Francois County's neighbor to the north Jefferson County where masks still aren't required.

There have been protests in both Jefferson and St. Francois counties against mask mandates.

”It is a controversial issue and we're going to have parents who don't want their kids wearing masks so it kind of ties our hands with those parents but we don't have that choice now," said R-III Superintendent Ashley McMillan.

“The important part now is we work as a community to slow the spread," added Elliott.

As of Sept. 15, the county has reported 1,748 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and seven people have died due to complications from the virus. 

St. Louis County and St. Louis city both have had mask mandates in place since July.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said it is helpful when counties outside of the city implement mask mandates.

"It's helpful to us because what we've seen is in in outlying counties, their numbers have been going up quickly and significantly. And we don't want anybody to get sick, whether they live in an outlying county or whether they live here. But especially we want to keep our hospital numbers low as well. And so, yes, I think it is definitely helpful for them to do that," Krewson said during her Wednesday COVID-19 briefing.

The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others, according to the CDC.

RELATED: St. Louis pandemic task force says there is significantly less growth of COVID-19 cases where there's a mask mandate

RELATED: Report: White House task force told Missouri to mandate masks