Boise, ID

Idaho Legislature: “No Mask Mandate” in Boise or Other Cities

Stuart Gustafson

(image courtesy of the author)

Most of us don’t think for even a moment when we’re entering a store or other establishment and we see a sign that says, “No Shirt - No Shoes - No Service.” While those signs are especially popular in beach communities where many patrons do walk the boardwalks and the sand barefooted, I’ve also seen similar signs throughout the USA, even here at home in Boise, Idaho. We don’t think anything about it because it seems like common courtesy or even common sense to be decently attired to enter a business.

“So much for common sense.”

Apparently common sense does not exist in the State Legislature in Idaho -- where Boise is the capital city -- who voted last week to make it illegal for cities or other municipalities to invoke any mandates or ordinances requiring a mask to be worn. Recall that we are still in the midst of a statewide, nationwide, and even worldwide pandemic of the Covid-19 coronavirus. But the state government is telling city governments that they are not allowed to issue any requirement for wearing a mask.

What could possibly go wrong with that no mask mandate order?

(image data from

The data above shows that as of yesterday there have been over 185,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Idaho. That is a full 10 percent of the state’s entire population. Let’s make that relevant. If you live in an apartment, someone in an apartment next to or above or below yours has been infected. Or step outside the front door of your house. Look to the left, the right, and then a couple houses across the street. The numbers says that one of those people has been infected with the virus.

“And yet we can’t have a mask mandate?”

The bright spot in all of this is the following vaccination data:

(image data from

Most of the population that have been vaccinated are those over 65 years of age. Younger people include teachers, health care and front-line workers, but the majority are the “elderly,” who are considered to be the most vulnerable should they become infected. Even once the majority of the overall population is vaccinated, what would be the harm of having a mask mandate?

Treasure Valley Coin Exchange on Overland Road in Boise has an interesting “Mask Policy” sign on the door. It reads (I’m paraphrasing here): "Remove your mask for identification purposes before entering the store.” That makes sense to me. Coin shops typically have a lot of valuable coins and precious metals, and the shop owners and employees want to see who is coming in the store for security reasons. I spoke with owner Dan Templeman about this and he remarked that once people come in the store, they are free to wear a mask if they want. He doesn’t wear a mask, and neither do his employees. No one was wearing a mask when I’ve been in the shop.

“It’s a small environment inside here,” he noted, and I also noted that the ceilings are rather low, perhaps seven feet high. “Common courtesy means you don’t breathe directly on others even if there were no virus out there for us to be concerned about," Dan added.

A random sampling of other Boise businesses, both independents and chain stores, showed that the majority of them had a “Facial Covering” requirement sign on the doors. Most customers seem to comply with the signs, but I have seen a few who don’t. When I’ve asked employees about the non-mask-wearing customers, the typical response has been that it’s not their job to enforce it. “I don’t know,” was the popular answer when I asked whose job it was.

One thing is clear. The state government in Idaho is not going to allow city-wide mask mandates in Boise and other parts of the state, so it is up to you, the citizen to control your own destiny and decide if you want to wear a mask. When you do wear the mask, you are telling others that you respect their right to be safe and healthy.

Mandate or not, wearing a mask is a smart thing to do.

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Articles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about travel, relevant local/regional items, some finance. Always with a slant to ask you to think.

Boise, ID

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