City, county require face coverings be worn in local government buildings

During the Danville City Commission and Boyle County Fiscal Court meetings earlier this week, city and county officials decided due to the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic — what local health officials have described as a fast, steep surge in cases — they would establish mask mandates within city and county government buildings.

One of the key items on the city commission’s agenda was to approve a municipal order for COVID-19 safety protocols, which passed unanimously among commissioners present. City Human Resources Manager Randy Boyd presented the order, saying he put it together with the city manager and upper management.

“With everything that’s going on in the community, the state, we feel like this is a necessary time to put these protocols into place,” Boyd said.

The order has five components, pertaining to: employee face mask requirements, public visitors, meeting requirements, cleaning and sanitizing, and policy. The components are summarized below, according to the order.

Employee face masks: all city employees will be required to wear a mask when mobile throughout any city indoor facility, regardless of vaccination status, and will be required to wear them within six feet of others. Those who work outdoors will not be required to wear a mask as long as they can practice social distancing. When riding in a city vehicle together employees must wear a face mask. If alone in their own office or work station, employees will not be required to wear face coverings. Additionally if an employee has an underlying condition or religious belief that conflicts with the mask mandate and has been reviewed with human resources, the human resources department will try and accommodate them.

Public visitors: Regardless of vaccination status, all public visitors must wear a mask when mobile throughout a city indoor facility. This applies to public meetings, private group meetings, individual meetings or utilization of city facilities and equipment, including the gym facility if social distancing of at least 6 feet cannot be practiced. Public visitors will not be required to wear a mask if they are alone or not within close proximity of others. Those who have underlying conditions or religious beliefs that conflict with wearing a mask will not be required to wear one, but they will need to practice adequate social distancing for the entirety of their visit. Face masks will be available to visitors upon request.

Meeting requirements: In-person meetings will be limited to a maximum of 25 attendees per meeting unless efforts can be made to ensure social distancing practices can be in place if exceeding the capacity limit. Attendees will be required to wear a face mask when entering and exiting the room, and if adequate social distancing cannot be practiced, they will be required to wear a mask the entire duration of the meeting. If an attendee is unable to wear a mask based on an underlying condition or religious belief and cannot practice social distancing, they will not be permitted to attend.

Cleaning and sanitizing: City employees will need to clean and disinfect their offices and work stations throughout the day, including city vehicles.

Policy: City employees refusing to meet face mask requirements will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in a section of the city’s policies and procedures handbook. Public visitors who do not comply with policies will not be permitted inside city-owned facilities.

“We want to make sure that this is a policy that’s enforceable, that we all do our part, because I feel like as a city, we have an obligation to be leaders in the community, and with that said, we ask that this be part of our standard policies for the duration of the pandemic, meaning it’s enforceable upon employees that refuse to abide by that policy,” Boyd said.

He added later that the city wishes to keep these policies in place until, depending on the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, it is appropriate to lift restrictions.

During the county’s fiscal court meeting Tuesday morning and also announced to the public via Facebook, order was set in place for face coverings to be worn inside all county owned buildings.

“Employees and the public should put as much space as possible between yourself and others through social distancing,” the Facebook post reads.  “When outside, employees and patrons should practice social distancing while working at or visiting county owned properties.”

The county also announced to the public via Facebook on Aug. 20 that because of the increase in COVID-19 cases in the county, fiscal court meetings would be closed to the public until further notice, allowing officials and staff to practice social distancing. The post encouraged the public to watch the fiscal court meetings on the fiscal court’s YouTube page.

At the fiscal court’s Aug. 10 meeting and previously covered by the Advocate-Messenger, Magistrate Tom Ellis put a resolution forward to encourage all citizens to get vaccinated, which was seconded by Magistrate Jamey Gay and passed unanimously.