I understand there is a lot of frustration regarding the proclamation on the use of face coverings in Peoria. It is an issue that I did not take lightly.
I learned of the governor’s authorization to allow local governments to put a mask ordinance in place from his press conference on Wednesday (June 17) afternoon.
I immediately began gathering input from residents, business leaders, council members and city leadership.
This issue was never a contest between cities or counties about who could make a policy first. It was and is a serious health and safety matter, with blurred lines between the responsibility of individuals and their government. It required thoughtful deliberation and careful insight, as any policy deserves that impacts a large number of people.
I take my responsibility to 180,000 Peoria residents very seriously, and this issue was not an exception to that fact. On Wednesday evening, I put out a social media statement saying that I was working to determine a Peoria plan that was measured and thoughtful and advised residents to continue to adhere to CDC guidelines. Thursday morning, I began working with our city attorney to discuss a policy that would consider all facets of life in Peoria, including work, recreation and public facilities.
Due to the feedback I was receiving from thousands of residents on both sides of this issue on Friday, I put out another message advising residents to continue to adhere to the health guidelines.
On Friday evening, after working with our city attorney throughout the day, I issued a proclamation requiring that masks be worn in public places in Peoria. I considered many details, including compliance through education first, followed by consequences of a class 1 misdemeanor.
Our fines will begin at $100.
In the end, I made my decision because with no medical remedy, we must use every possible tool available to help us slow the spread of COVID-19. I understand people have strong feelings on both sides of this issue.
I want every Peoria resident to know that I’ve heard you, I greatly appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts, and I wish you and your family health and wellness as together we work through this pandemic.
Cathy Carlat has been the mayor of Peoria since 2015.