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Bellefonte cancels hearing on mask ordinance

BELLEFONTE — There will be no public hearing about Bellefonte’s potential mask and social distancing ordinance — at least not anytime soon.

Earlier this week, the borough announced on its Facebook page that it was canceling a public hearing, which was scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3 at Lambert Hall.

The announcement read: “Bellefonte Borough has decided to cancel its public hearing to accept comment on its draft mask and social distancing ordinance, originally scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3. Since the Governor’s Order of Nov. 23 is more restrictive than what the borough was proposing, it is not necessary at this time for council to consider a local ordinance related to mask wearing to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.”

The Dec. 3 meeting would have had options for both in-person and virtual attendance.

The controversial draft masking ordinance has been in the works since September. At a September borough council meeting, it decided to table the ordinance and have the safety committee make changes based on widespread community feedback. Several community members addressed council on the Zoom call. Upon further review, the draft ordinance was tweaked and updated.

The public hearing was scheduled to be broadcast live on C-NET and the borough’s YouTube channel.

Prior to the public hearing getting canceled, council president Joanne Tosti-Vasey talked about the changes that the safety committee made to the ordinance.

“A lot of these suggestions came from one of the public comments back when it came around the first time. So, we took that and what we had with the governor’s reopening guidelines and re-did this to help improve it to meet the concerns of the community, as well as concerns for the safety of people going forward,” Tosti-Vasey said.

Bellefonte Borough Council is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7. That meeting will be held via Zoom.

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