BONNEY LAKE, Wash. — With a population of just over 20,000 people, the city of Bonney Lake is taking a stand against requiring residents to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to go maskless inside local businesses.
On May 25, Bonney Lake City Council unanimously passed a resolution granting citizens “freedom from further business restrictions, mask mandates, and proof of vaccination requirements and restrictions that promote COVID-19 vaccine segregation.”
Councilmember Angela Ishmael took the lead on Resolution No. 2937, which states City Council opposes any mandated requirements or restrictions for residents to show vaccination status at public places.
Ishmael pointed to decreasing COVID-19 rates and the risk of catching the virus after vaccination being low as to why the city supports keeping vaccine status private at restaurants, games and places of faith.
The city said it understands and is aware the word segregation is strong and triggering for some, but Ishmael said she believes that's what is happening, and businesses in Bonney Lake are suffering.
"To say, well, you can open, but only if you segregate your customers, and you sit on this side, and you sit on that side, and you have your own bathroom, you have your own door,” said Ishmael. “I mean, I've never seen a community that was so paralyzed with fear that they didn't even notice that we were promoting as a government to segregate our citizens.”
Ishmael continued to say the burden of vaccination is on businesses that are already struggling.
KING 5 asked the Washington State Department of Health for their thoughts on if vaccine incentives, in the interest of public health, were creating a divide.
"If you're vaccinated, you're protected, and if you're not vaccinated, you're not protected,” said State Secretary of Health Umair Shah. “Unfortunately, when you have unvaccinated and vaccinated together, that's when there's a potential of risk.”
Ishmael admitted the resolution is more in spirit, saying the city can't supersede Washington's mask and vaccination requirements, but hopes to inspire other cities in the state to follow suit if they feel the same way and want their voices heard.
"We took a stand and put pen to paper, and I just hope that on June 30 when the state reopens, that Gov. Inslee makes it clear that [reopening] means for everyone and not just those that are vaccinated," said Ishmael.