City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy wants to require all city employees to wear masks.

Kennedy made her request that masks be required for all city employees at the continuation of the Tuesday, May 19 virtual meeting held Thursday, May 21 at 11 a.m.

The purpose of the meeting was to confirm the actions taken on public hearing items at the Tuesday meeting because state law requires the City Council to hold the written public comment period open for 24 hours after the virtual public comment ends, and to approve a permitting process for restaurants to temporarily increase their outdoor seating capacity.

However, at the end of the meeting Kennedy said that she wanted face coverings for city employees “to be a requirement not a suggestion.”

She said, “I believe it is absolutely enforceable for us as an employer.”

Councilmember Sharon Hightower asked, “Are you saying that you want employees punished for not wearing a mask.”

In response Kennedy compared wearing a mask to wearing a hardhat on a construction site.

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I have full faith in David [City Manager David Parrish] and his team that he will express to the employees what is important.”

Councilmember Goldie Wells said, “I don’t think there should be punishment.”

She added, “I think it should be strongly encouraged.”

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that she had seen bus drivers not wearing masks.

Hightower noted that bus drivers are not city employees and any problem with bus drivers should be taken up with their employer, Keolis.

Kennedy said, “For me this is a policy issue.”

But Kennedy didn’t get support from her fellow councilmembers on requiring city employees to wear masks.

Parrish said that they were acquiring more masks for employees and also marking areas in city hall to encourage social distancing.

Parrish the only city employee who participated in the virtual meeting was not wearing a mask.