The coronavirus pandemic mask requirements are gone in a lot of instances.

However, on Wednesday, May 19, Guilford County announced that those working in and visiting county facilities will still be required to wear masks.

The new directive from the county stated that, under the authority of Guilford County Manager Mike Halford, mask wearing would continue to be required.

“Regarding county government facilities and county leased property,” the statement reads, “The County Manager, in his authority to limit access to government properties and under the advisement of our local health officials, will continue to require masks to be worn inside county facilities and inside county leased properties.”

The county plans to revisit this requirement in two weeks.

The statement added that Halford did not make the decision lightly.

The decision does indeed seem to be the result of much discussion by county officials over the past few days.  When the county early in the week put out a public notice that up to 25 spectators would be allowed in the Thursday, May 20 Board of Commissioners meeting, there was no mention of masking in that notice.  When the Rhino Times asked multiple county officials on Tuesday and Wednesday whether masks would be required at the meeting, they did not respond at all.

 When Chairman of the Guilford Board of Commissioners Skip Alston was asked about masks at the May 20 meeting, he said that that he was going to require audience members to wear masks at the meeting.  He said that, while the commissioners themselves were removed from the crowd, and protected by plexiglass dividers, those in the audience should be masked – especially since it is impossible to tell who has been vaccinated and who has not.

Halford explained his reasoning for the mask requirement in county facilities in a statement: “At this time, it is impossible to both quickly and reliably confirm vaccination status. This additional time will allow us to closely observe our local metrics as the community at large begins to unmask.  We will be better able to evaluate our internal readiness and potential impacts to services for both mask and capacity reductions.  The additional assessment period will allow us time to ensure that we can balance our ongoing responsibilities to continue to safely provide mandated public services”

The Guilford County Division of Public Health is still offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Appointments may be scheduled in the following ways: