Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is running for governor in next year’s primary, said the mandate threatened people’s freedom. McGeachin is acting governor while Little attends the Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
McGeachin’s order was signed by Republican Secretary of State Lawerence Denney and went into effect at 11 a.m.
It prohibits city and county governments, public universities, colleges and schools, and public libraries from requiring people to wear masks. The executive order does not apply to federal buildings, hospitals, or health care facilities.
The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.
A spokeswoman for Little told the Associated Press (AP) that McGeachin didn’t notify the governor of her executive order ahead of time. The office didn’t say what Little would do when he returned, but it did say residents value local control.
“Throughout the pandemic, Governor Little has been committed to protecting the health and safety of the people of Idaho and has emphasized the importance of Idahoans choosing to protect our neighbors and loved ones and keeping our economy and schools open,” Little’s spokeswoman, Marissa Morrison, said.
Little, who has only served one term, has never mandated the wearing of masks statewide, but some counties, cities, and schools had done so.
Many have been lifting the mandates as more residents are vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Idaho’s largest city and capital Boise moved to lift its mask mandate on May 14.
“I’ve been listening to people all across the state with the concern about, especially, why are little kids being forced to wear masks in school,” McGeachin told AP. “My oath to the Constitution is to protect those rights and freedoms of the individual, and I’ve never supported any type of a mandate on the individual, especially when it comes to health care choices.”
It’s not yet clear whether Little will be seeking another term. He was elected governor in 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.