Just when you thought it was safe to go maskless in Guilford County government facilities…

Guilford County employees and visitors to county buildings were glad to hear earlier this summer that they would no longer be required to wear masks inside Guilford County government buildings, but, as of Wednesday July 28, the mandatory masks are back.  Guilford County announced that the county has reinstated its mandatory mask policy “for all persons inside of any county facility, regardless of their vaccination status.”

Earlier in the summer, Guilford County Manager Mike Halford and the Guilford County commissioners had discussions about the county’s masking policies with the decline of COVID-19 cases happening at that time.  Now, after a brief respite of masklessness, the masks are back.

Under NC Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 215, local jurisdictions are authorized to establish COVID- 19 safety measures for their communities.

 In an email this week from Halford, he announced the reinstatement of mandatory masks for county facilities.

“Given the trends in our policy metrics and increases in rates of community spread and hospitalizations related to COVID-19,” he wrote in the email, “and after consulting with our Public Health and Emergency Services teams, I am revising our indoor masking protocols. This change will support our work to ensure the safety of our teams and the public, and to protect the continuity of our operations. In the coming weeks, we will continue to monitor key community indicators and make recommendations as the Delta Variant continues to impact our County.”

Chairman Guilford of the County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston issued a public statement saying he “fully supports” Halfords decision. During the pandemic, Alston was one of the first proponents of mandatory masks for county employees and he encouraged the county commissioners to wear them at meetings and work sessions.

 “We know that masking is effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” Alston stated this week.  “Our county employees are responsible for providing essential services such as EMS, Child Protective Services, and Public Health. In order to keep our teams safe and healthy, so that they may continue to serve the public, we must take every precaution; it just makes sense,” said Chairman Alston.

He added “What I don’t want to see is reducing service delivery because employees are out of the office sick. If we continue to see spikes in infection rates, we may have to consider expanding mandatory masking beyond our county facilities. We hope that the public takes the CDC’s masking guidance seriously. I urge everyone to continue wearing your masks and to get vaccinated to help prevent a repeat of last summer.”