Some of you may have already heard that the County issued a Health Order that includes a mask mandate. The order asks us to help slow the spread by following the State’s current Phased Guidelines for the level we are currently in (yellow).
It specifically states that each individual in the County must follow the mask guidelines while in public areas when consistent physical distancing with individuals who are not members of the same household cannot be maintained. The order includes the following exceptions:
- an individual under five years of age;
- an individual with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering;
- an individual engaged in an activity where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication with others, or who is communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing;
- an individual for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the individual related to the individual’s work or activity, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
- an individual who is obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform or obtain the service;
- an individual who is seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while the individual is eating or drinking;
- an individual who is purchasing a product or receiving services that requires identification may briefly remove a face covering, as necessary, so that a retailer or service provider can verify identity;
- an individual engaging in work where the individual is alone in an indoor establishment or facility;
- an individual engaging in strenuous physical activity where circumstances are not reasonably conducive to wearing a face covering, such as swimming, running, etc.;
- an individual who otherwise qualifies for an exemption under State Health Order 2020-111, or any other state or federal exemption regarding face coverings.
Some of you will be glad that this order was issued, while others have concerns. We would point out that the County is not asking us to do anything we haven’t already been asked to do. Moreover, in the accompanying letter, the County specifically states that this order “is not intended to be enforced with criminal penalties. We want the message for our residents to be as clear as possible: When in public and unable to consistently maintain a safe distance, we are expected to wear face coverings.” We want to affirm that we do not intend for this order to be enforced by the police with criminal penalties. Rather, we expect that Highland residents will continue to follow the mask policies and if needed be more mindful.
We hope that those with concerns about the order will be patient (the order expires Oct 20th and could be lifted earlier) and recognize that we are being asked to adhere to a policy that includes reasonable exceptions. At the same time, we encourage all to be kind and assume that others are doing their best. If you have concerns, express them to individuals one-on-one if they are adults, or with their parents/guardians if they are youth. Keep in mind the exceptions listed above may not be readily discernable to a third party.
Thanks for all you do to make Highland a wonderful place to live. Let us continue to watch out and care for each other, something that Highlanders do well.
Highland City Mayor