If you think Guilford County government isn’t serious about enforcing its mask mandate – well, think again. 

Letters being sent to business owners in the county state in no uncertain terms that the law now requires that facemasks be worn indoors at public places, and it adds that there are increasing financial penalties for not following and enforcing the mask mandate.

The letters, which carry the seal of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, are accompanied by a flyer that reads, in big letters, “MaskUp. It’s The Law.”

The letter features a banner graphic that states, “FACE COVERINGS REQUIRED INDOORS.  Regardless of Vaccination Status.”  It also includes the ominous warning, also in large text: “VIOLATIONS SUBJECT TO CIVIL PENALTIES.”

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners passed a mask mandate in early August but made that move so hastily that it turned out the first version wasn’t legally enforceable.  The board then approved a “do-over” motion on Wednesday, Aug. 25 that was legally enforceable – and now business owners must mask up or could be fined.

Some business owners find the letter/warning to be “heavy handed,” but other owners are already stringently enforcing the rules and want to see others follow the rules as well.

At the county commissioners meeting when the mandate was passed, Guilford County Commissioner Kay Cashion said she thought long and hard before voting to implement the ban, but added that, in the end, she felt as though the mandate would help bring the pandemic under control and get businesses back to normal faster.

The letter being sent out by the Health and Human Services Department warns business owners of the escalating penalties they could pay.

 People who go maskless face a $50 fine after one warning – but businesses, the letter states, face a $300 fine for a first violation.  After that, the fine grows to $500 and then $1,500 for each additional violation by the “same responsible party.”

There’s been uneven enforcement by businesses across the county of the mandate over the past month and county officials no doubt hope this letter will rachet up compliance. 

In some stores and other establishments in Guilford County one can find customers who aren’t wearing facemasks and aren’t being told to wear one.