KALAMAZOO, MI — Face masks are no longer required at Kalamazoo City Commission meetings, after a 6-1 vote.
The city commission voted to approve the measure Monday, March 7, to make wearing face masks voluntary.
Commissioner Chris Praedel was the only commissioner who voted against the change. Praedel has a 2-year-old child, he said, and young children still can’t be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Praedel said he believes it would allow more people to participate safely if the city commission continued to require masks.
Commissioner Esteven Juarez said we have to learn to live with COVID and also take safety precautions, but not judge each other on decision to wear or not wear a mask.
“I hate the mask but I love my brothers and sisters enough to wear it,” Juarez said.
The city commission returned to in-person meetings in January 2022 after staying virtual for as long as emergency rules in Michigan allowed. The commission met in person in January for the first time since March 2020 and the start of the pandemic.
Since the return to in-person meetings, the city commission has required face masks in the chambers.
The city cites guidance from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) regarding a “post-surge recovery phase” of the COVID-19 response cycle, during which the wearing of masks could be limited to individuals during isolation and quarantine period and when in high-risk congregate settings such as long-term care and health care facilities, jails, correctional facilities and shelters.
Cases have decreased in Kalamazoo County, from a pandemic high in January 2022 that reached 716 confirmed cases per day on Jan. 4.
Case count is down, averaging 14 daily confirmed cases over the past week from Feb. 28 to March 6.
The city agenda packet states people should make a personal decision whether to wear a face mask or not.