Just when you thought it was safe to take your breaths each day with no mask on, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners made it a law once again for everyone in the county to mask up when inside restaurants, workplaces, businesses, government offices or any other enclosed public place.

Beginning on Friday, Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. the new county ordinance goes into effect.

Violators will get a warning for a first offense, a $300 fine for the second, a $500 fine for the next violation and a $1,500 fine for each subsequent incident of masklessness indoors. 

The Board of Commissioners adopted the new mask mandate in an attempt to address the spread of COVID-19 in Guilford County.  The board did so at an emergency Board of Commissioners meeting held via Zoom on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 10.  The decision was split straight down party lines on a 7-to-2 vote, with Republican Commissioners Justin Conrad and Alan Perdue casting the no votes.

Before the vote, county staff from the Guilford County Health Division and from the Emergency Management Division presented the board with information about the growth of the new Delta variant of the coronavirus in the county.

The board didn’t set any specific guidelines for eliminating the mandate down the road.  However, staff told the board that the COVID-19 numbers in the county would be monitored closely and that that information would be provided to the board on a regular basis.

The board did make an exception to the rule: Those people who work in an office alone – with no one else around – won’t be required to wear a mask.

The commissioners’ meeting was a rare one in that they met “as the Board of Health.” 

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston referred to the other elected leaders as “board members” throughout the meeting and he explained that was because, in that environment, they are acting as Board of Health members, not as commissioners.