Coeur d’Alene residents, businesses adjust to mask mandate

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Friday was the first full day of the mask mandate in Kootenai County.

The Panhandle Health Board is now requiring people in public to wear a mask if they can’t stay at least six feet apart.

Coeur d’Alene resident Gerry Buchan said she saw half the people walking on Sherman Avenue wearing a mask, the other half without.

I’m not going to be in downtown or in public for very long. the way I see it is if you’re wearing a mask to go grocery shopping or whatever, how long do you grocery shop? For an hour, tops. For me it’s not a super big deal,” she said.

When 4 News Now asked her if she’d still wear one if it’s not required, she said “probably not.”

“But, I do it out of respect for other people,” she said.

Before the mandate kicked in, signs were already up at the Coeur d’Alene library asking customer to wear face coverings. It wasn’t required.

“We had about two thirds of visitors who were not [wearing them],” said Bette Ammon, the library director.

Ammon said they will give a grace period for people to get used to the new rule.

“We’re hoping that everybody will voluntarily complies and understands that this is good for their neighbors and good for their fellow citizens and their library staff,” she said.

Otherwise, people will be asked to leave. Those who don’t want to wear masks can also ask to do curbside pickup.

“Libraries really want to stay open. We know a lot of people need the library for computer access and for reading material. We want to keep doing that, so we’re hoping this directive will help us stay open,” Ammon said.

The same could be said for the Kroc Center.

Staff started masking up as cases were going up. Now that it’s a requirement for both members and staff, The Kroc Center director said they put up signs, hoping people will comply.

“The ability to enforce and police this really doesn’t fall to us, but we are going to be encouraging, reminding people as they come in and with the signage we have is specifically for that purpose,” said Kip Sharbono, the center’s director.

Sharbono said guests at the Kroc Center do not have to wear a mask if they are in the aquatic center or are “heavily involved in exercise.” He says their machines are socially distanced.

RELATED: Kootenai Co. Sheriff favors education over enforcement of mask mandate

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office says it will be educating people before enforcing the mandate, adding that violations will be on a case-by-case basis.

However, if pursued, a person could be charged with a misdemeanor. Under Idaho code, that would mean a person could be fined $1,000 and/or go to jail for up to six months.

“I don’t personally know how I feel about it. All I know is I don’t want to be fined $1,000, so I’m wearing one,” Buchan said.

There is no expiration date for the mandate, according to the Panhandle Health Board’s order.

RELATED: Panhandle Health District board approves mask mandate in Kootenai County