If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
On Thursday, Aug. 26, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting and adopted a countywide mask mandate requiring Guilford County residents to wear a face covering while indoors at public places such as stores, restaurants, schools and clubs.
If that sounds familiar and you’re saying to yourself, “I thought the commissioners did that 10 days ago,” you are correct, but the first mandate didn’t take. While the earlier hastily drawn and rushed-out-the-door mask mandate didn’t pass legal muster, top county officials and legal minds have had nearly two weeks to draw up the new, similar mandate, so the latest version presumably will be enforceable under the law.
The Aug. 26 mandate, which went into effect the instant it was approved, includes fines for those who, after a warning, disobey the mandate – and it comes at the objection of many, many county residents who’ve been vaccinated and those who are sick of wearing masks.
Several commissioners acknowledged that a whole lot of county residents let them know that they didn’t want the board to implement the new mask rules.
Guilford County Commissioner Carlvena Foster made the motion and Commissioner Carolyn Coleman seconded it. There was a discussion of the new mandate, even though the conclusion was foregone.
In the end, the vote was 6 to 3 to approve, with Commissioners Justin Conrad, Alan Perdue and James Upchurch voting against.
The virtual meeting was a rarity because the Board of Commissioners was meeting as the Guilford County Board of Health. (The commissioners voted the county’s health board out of existence years ago and took over that role.)
Before the first mask mandate was adopted earlier this month, Commissioner Justin Conrad warned the board about major issues of concern – legal and otherwise – but his legitimate complaints went largely ignored by fellow commissioners.
Conrad said at the Aug. 26 meeting that he appreciated the fact that Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne had listened to his concerns and made some adjustments in the newest mandate. Conrad said in the Zoom meeting that he still did not agree the measure should pass but he knew he was going to lose this battle.
“I can count,” Conrad said at one point in the meeting.
Payne said that the new mandate had some “clarifying language,” including making it explicit that schools were subject to the mandate.