Ames City Council motions to consider repealing mask mandate


At 6 p.m. July 10, there will be a kick-off event with more information on the Ames Appreciation Project and the opportunity to make signs or pick up supplies at the Ames Public Library.

Amber Mohmand

During a special meeting Tuesday, the Ames City Council made a motion to add repealing the mask ordinance on the agenda of its next meeting. 

“Our community wants this to be done, and the sooner the better,” Ward. 3 Rep. Tim Gartin said. “… I don’t know what there is to gain by delaying this and requiring people to wear a mask when we’re going to remove the mandate.” 

The discussion to repeal the mask mandate came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) announcement that those who are fully vaccinated, which is two weeks after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks after receiving Johnson & Johnson, can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic.

This allows fully vaccinated people to resume activities without wearing a mask or social distancing, except where it is required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

Since the CDC’s announcement, local governments in Iowa, including Des Moines, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, repealed its local face covering ordinances. 

Ames’ face covering ordinance expires June 30. Prior to the meeting, the city reached out to Mary Greeley Medical Center, the Story County Board of Health, Iowa State University and McFarland Clinic. 

The general theme of each response was to follow the CDC guideline. 

Gartin proposed a motion to speed up the process of repealing the mandate. 

Gartin moved to direct the city attorney’s office to draft an ordinance repealing the face covering mandate ordinance, with the first reading at the Tuesday council meeting, along with an agenda sub-item to consider a Motion to Suspend the Rules, which would allow the repealing ordinance to be adopted on the same day. 

The motion failed. One concern was that speeding the process up could impact public input, Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher said, as they advertised that the council will be taking public input Tuesday. 

“It’s not that I want to slow down the process, it’s that we’ve already told people what our process is, and I’d rather not switch that at this point,” she said.

Gartin said that’s a good rule to follow, but some circumstances can impact this vote. 

“I think our community wants this mandate rescinded as soon as possible,” Gartin said. “Not one day longer should we be making these kids wear masks. And so, respectfully, I do think there are circumstances where the benefits of having a more expedited schedule are worthwhile.” 

The City Council’s jurisdiction to rescind the face covering ordinance will only apply to the city. Whether schools require masks or not is up to the discretion of the Ames School Board. 

At-large Rep. Amber Corrieri added that the discussion of masks became a divisive issue in the community. 

Corrieri said there are reports of business owners and their employees being harassed for attempting to enforce a mandate that helps protect their customers and staff, and there are non-mask wearers — who may not wear one for medical reasons — being harassed. 

“Things only become divisive based on how we choose to react around our children and around the community,” she said. “… Whatever we do moving forward, I think we all just need to do better in the long run.” 

After Gartin’s motion failed, Ward 3 Rep. David Martin proposed to add three agenda items to the next City Council meeting: the vote to repeal the mask ordinance, a resolution indicating the county mask ordinance has no effect within the city of Ames and to denote the request for a council vote on suspending the rules that normally require multiple readings. 

The City Council voted on Martin’s motion unanimously. 

The next City Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom teleconference for a special meeting to discuss possible revisions to the current face covering ordinance. The meeting is will also be available on YouTube.