PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County Council has voted against a county-wide mask mandate for indoor and large outdoor public gatherings.
On Tuesday, 10 council members voted “no” and two voted in favor. There were three abstentions.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Man Who Survived COVID-19 Undergoes Heart Transplant After Virus Resurfaces
Under the legislation, masks would have been required in Allegheny County at all indoor public gatherings and outdoor gatherings of more than 250 people. The legislation, sponsored by councilmembers Olivia Bennett and Bethany Hallam, said anyone who did not follow the requirement could have been fined up to $100.
“I’m highly disappointed because I really would love to see the people of Allegheny County protected during a health pandemic,” Bennett said.
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The proposal cited studies about the effectiveness of masks and said opposition to masking doesn’t come from a health perspective but from a political perspective, pointing to protests held last week when the statewide school mask mandate went into effect.
But there were questions whether Allegheny County Council would have been overstepping by getting into an area governed by the Allegheny County Health Department.
“In my mind, this ordinance raises more questions than it does presents answers,” councilmember Paul Klein said.READ MORE: Toddler Taken To Hospital With Gunshot Wound, Police Investigating
Some local government experts said Allegheny County Council did not have the authority to mandate masks, but Hallam said it is a temporary ordinance and does not go into the county’s Health Department regulations.
“I just don’t believe that it is this body’s role to tell people how they have to live their lives,” councilmember Sam DeMarc said.
Before the meeting, a firestorm of criticism erupted after Hallam went to Buffalo, New York, to watch Sunday’s Steelers game. She tweeted a photo from inside Highmark Stadium that showed she was maskless.
— Bethany Hallam (@bethanyhallam) September 12, 2021
“The rules at the Bills stadium stated that no masks are required in the seating area, just as our stadiums in Pittsburgh say. If and when the ordinance passes, I’ll be responsible for following it along with everyone else,” Hallam told KDKA. “Going forward I’ll work to be a better role model for the people I’m elected to serve, whether they agree with my policies or not.”MORE NEWS: Suspect Sought In Penn Hills Shooting That Injured 17-Year-Old Boy
KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso asked Bennett and Hallam what is next and they said they are not sure.