Guilford County is taking a do-over on its mask mandate.
Last week, Guilford County government issued a mask mandate requiring masks to be worn by all people when indoors at public places. However, due to a legal challenge and other concerns, the county is not enforcing the mandate and county officials are going back to the drawing board.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is expected to adopt a revised mandate later, one that will go into effect sometime around the start of September.
One problem with the existing mandate adopted by the Board of Commissioners recently, according to Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, is that it included criminal penalties but didn’t provide the proper amount of required public notice legally required for those penalties to go into effect.
“We will not be enforcing the rule for 10 days – but at the same time, the rule is in place,” Alston said, in a statement that is somewhat confusing.
According to two Guilford County officials, Guilford County was threatened with legal action over the recently implemented mask mandate – and county leaders agreed that the current mandate, which went into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug.13 – was not acceptable.
Again, Alston stressed that everyone should still wear masks indoors at public places for their own protection and the protection of others, even though there will be no enforcement of the rule until a new one is written and adopted.
“We are going to be revising the ordinance,” Alston said.
The chairman said that county staff met on Monday morning, Aug. 16 and agreed it would be legally prudent not to enforce the mask mandate until a revised ordinance could be put in place by the board.
He said this will give places like restaurants and businesses a chance to adjust. Alston also reiterated that – even though the current ordinance won’t be enforced – masks should still be worn at restaurants, stores, offices and other public establishments since the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is becoming more prevalent.
“It was never our intent to be heavy-handed,” Alston said, adding that the real goal is not to criminalize actions or fine people, but instead to make everyone aware of the need to protect themselves and others from the sometimes deadly virus.