A new mask policy was presented during the Carlton County special session Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Oct. 18, and county commissioners will vote on whether to enact the policy at their next meeting, which is set for 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25.
County officials developed the plan since the board's last meeting on how a new mask policy would work for county employees and visitors in county buildings.
According to the proposal, Carlton County employees and visitors will have to wear a mask when the county is experiencing a substantial or high rate of transmissions of the coronavirus. County staff must also wear masks if they are working with children under the age of 12 as they are unable to be vaccinated.
If approved on Monday, the measure would go into effect right away. The board would review the policy at its first meeting in January 2022.
The mask policy has both a medical exemption and a religious objection for those who can’t wear a mask. The county will not require proof of either and will take employees and visitors at their word.
District 4 Commissioner Mark Thell brought up the concern of enforcement.
“If you are going to put exemptions in (the policy) who is going to verify that you got an exemption?” he asked.
County coordinator Dennis Genereau said while this will not get those opposed to wearing masks to put one on, it will get a portion of the population to wear a mask when asked to.
“I was at a sporting venue this weekend and you had to have a mask to get in, but once you’re in, a third of the people were not (wearing) masks,” he said. “But if they weren’t requiring masks when they came in, then nobody would have had those masks on.”
The county’s mask policy is aimed at getting the people who will wear masks when asked to wear them in county buildings.
District 5 Commissioner Gary Peterson said there is nothing the county can do about what people will or won’t do in regards to masks.
“At the same time I think we are going to help some people,” he said. “It’s never going to be the thing that solves the problem 100%, but we can make a dent in it and help our people too.”