Mossyrock City Council Repeats Declaration Against COVID-19 Restrictions

Reopening: City Council Says It Will Not Partake In ‘Vaccine Segregation’


Mossyrock businesses and residents defying statewide COVID-19 restrictions were again backed up by their city council this week. On Thursday, the body adopted a resolution indicating that any lingering state health regulations would not be enforced going into the summer season — a move mirroring the city’s November pledge to “not recognize” sweeping pandemic restrictions.

Billed as a declaration “to be an inclusive community,” the resolution passed Thursday decried “vaccine segregation” and state health guidance used to “discriminate.”

“The City of Mossyrock stands to be an inclusive community, where all people regardless of their vaccine status should be treated equally, with kindness, compassion and understanding,” the resolution reads.

According to Mossyrock Mayor Randall Sasser, the document was spurred by concerns that Gov. Jay Inslee will keep Washington or Lewis County “held back” after June 30, despite his pledge to fully reopen the state.

The city resolution cannot override state mandates or Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) regulations — something acknowledged by Sasser and potentially felt by businesses. As of May, L&I had levied $7.3 million in fines against Washington businesses for failing to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

“Right now we shouldn't be in a state of emergency. We should be opened up fully,” Sasser said Thursday. “So essentially this resolution is saying ‘you know what, if he doesn’t (open the state), we’re going to pass a resolution here in Mossyrock that says it’s up to the business owners and the individuals of our town and our community to make their own decisions, and not following the mandates of the state.’”

The resolution resembles what the city passed in November, on the heels of sweeping state restrictions aimed at stamping down what became the state’s most devastating wave of infections. Back then, Mossyrock made headlines declaring it “will not recognize” those restrictions.

In previous conversations with The Chronicle, Sasser said the November declaration was prompted by a perception that the virus hadn’t impacted Mossyrock.

It was a difficult claim to prove, since the county was not reporting cases by ZIP code. Now, county data show 136 cases associated with the Mossyrock ZIP code as of late May. That’s 2.9% of the county’s total cumulative cases, which is proportionate to the area’s population.

Like Mossyrock’s new resolution, the November declaration came with no legal authority. But it did draw in hundreds of supporters for a “Freedom Rally,” and raised concerns in county officials that the attention could negatively impact the county’s image as state officials decided which counties would move forward in a phased reopening plan.

The city’s new resolution says Mossyrock “recognizes that private businesses are also capable of determining what is best for the health and safety of citizens who they employ and serve.”

It also proclaims that the city supports “freedom of choice” and opposes “government mandated restrictions promoting COVID-19 vaccination segregation,” a common refrain from Republican state leaders, who have used the term “vaccine segregation” to describe vaccinated-only seating sections as well as new L&I guidance allowing fully-vaccinated employees to unmask.

The declaration comes on the cusp of festival season as well, which includes Mossyrock’s “Freedom Fest,” where the city “will not promote COVID-19 segregation restrictions or mask requirements.”

The event is slated for July 3 and 4, and will include a parade, seven bands, fireworks, dog and magic shows and a pie-eating contest.