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While serving as acting governor on Thursday, Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin (R) signed an executive order banning mask mandates throughout the state.
“Today, as acting Governor of the State of Idaho, I signed an Executive Order to protect the rights and liberties and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions – including public schools from imposing mask mandates in our state. #idpol,” McGeachin wrote in a tweet.
Today, as acting Governor of the State of Idaho, I signed an Executive Order to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions — including public schools — from imposing mask mandates in our state. #idpol pic.twitter.com/Nmb6DX9v6X
— Janice McGeachin (@JaniceMcGeachin) May 27, 2021
The executive order prohibits the state and political subdivisions from mandating face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also prohibits “a face mask, face shield or face covering” from being required “as a condition for entry, education, employment, or other services.”
According to the order, the state and political subdivisions can place a notice that masks and face coverings are recommended but not required.
The order specifically lists “political subdivisions” as counties, cities, public health districts, public schools — including colleges and universities — and other special-purpose districts.
Health care facilities, medical centers, and hospitals are exempt from the order.
McGeachin told the Idaho Press her decision to sign the executive order was “just a response to what I’ve been hearing from people all across the state.”
“For those who feel at risk, then they should continue to wear (masks). But to force it on others I think is not right,” she explained to the Press.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, Idaho has not had a statewide mask mandate. That determination was left to individual public health districts, cities, and counties. School districts across the state have taken various approaches. Boise and West Ada School Districts are currently under a mask mandate. The Coeur d’Alene School District rescinded their mask mandate last month but quickly reinstated it after various COVID outbreaks.
Governor Brad Little (R) is out of the state for the week. According to Idaho News, Little is “collaborating with other Republican governors.” His office told the outlet he was unaware of McGeachin’s order ahead of time.
“The Lt. Governor did not make Governor Little aware of her executive order ahead of time,” Little’s office told Idaho News. “The Governor’s Office is reviewing the Lt. Governor’s executive order. Governor Little has never put in place a statewide mask mandate. Throughout the pandemic, Governor Little has been committed to protecting the health and safety of the people of Idaho and has emphasized the importance of Idahoans choosing to protect our neighbors and loved ones and keeping our economy and schools open.”
“Idahoans value local control and the local approach to addressing important issues,” Little’s office continued. “An expanded statement from the Governor’s Office on the Lt. Governor’s executive order will be made available after a more thorough review of this executive action.”
Although it’s possible Little will rescind the order once he is back later this week, McGeachin is optimistic.
“It’s possible but I am just going to remain hopeful that the governor sees the value in this,” she told the Press.
McGeachin announced last week she is running for governor of Idaho in 2022. Little has yet to announce whether or not he will run for re-election.