Since the mask requirements for most places were lifted by Gov. Roy Cooper in May, when and where masks are required has become somewhat of a crapshoot.
Those watching the June 15 City Council meeting would be justified in assuming that masks were not required at city hall. Not a single member of the City Council wore a mask during the meeting. The city manager, city attorney and city staff members making presentations also were not wearing masks while on camera.
However, anyone making the assumption that masks are not required at city hall and in other city facilities would be wrong.
The city press release noting that Cooper had removed the mask requirement states, “The City will continue to require everyone to wear masks and face coverings inside all City-owned facilities.”
But according to City Council behavior, that is one of those rules that is – For thee and not for me.
Many department heads were sitting in the audience at the meeting and they wore masks, the technicians running the video broadcast wore masks and the security guards wore masks. The one journalist in the room following the lead of the City Council did not wear a mask during the meeting and was not asked to leave.
So de facto rule appears to be that those from the mayor down to assistant city managers (and journalists) don’t have to follow the mask rule for all city owned facilities, but those below the assistant city manager level, and the public, masks are required.
The council chambers also look very different than they did for the first hybrid meeting in April when there were Plexiglas dividers between each councilmember and also Plexiglas dividers scattered out among city staff.
For councilmembers the Plexiglas dividers meant that when a councilmember wanted to speak to a councilmember beside them, they had to roll their chairs back where they could speak face to face, or more accurately mouth to ear.
When asked about the lack of masks worn by the City Council, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I believe we’ve all been vaccinated, so we took the option of taking the partitions down.”
She added, “We require masks in public spaces in city buildings.”