Should Sitka’s local government ask everyone to wear a mask in public spaces? The Sitka Assembly will consider the question when it meets tonight (7-14-20).

In an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the assembly will consider a resolution stating that nearly everyone covers their faces in public. If it passes, mask wearing will be required in all local businesses and indoor communal spaces.

There are many exceptions to the rule: children under the age of 12, people with a  health issue, anyone exercising if masks interfere with breathing, or anyone presenting to an audience, like ministers and musicians. 

According to the language in resolution, the order is actually not really an order. It’s “unenforceable without the effect of law,” and “people of Sitka are respectfully requested to comply.” 

The assembly will also consider moving the Alexander Baranov statue to the Sitka History Museum. The statue of the Russian colonial official currently in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall was donated to the city by the Hames family in 1989 and has recently come under scrutiny again. More than 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for the city to remove the statue. A counter-petition to keep the statue, created by the Russian Community Council, a Russian government-sponsored cultural organization, has received more than 5,000, though most of the signers are in the Russian Federation. 

The assembly will also consider putting the statue on the October municipal election ballot. 

The Sitka Assembly meets tonight at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Raven News will broadcast the meeting live at 6 p.m., after Alaska News Nightly.