FAIRFIELD – The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved a mask mandate for county offices during its meeting Monday morning at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
The resolution was passed by a vote of 2-1, with supervisors Daryn Hamilton and Dee Sandquist voting in favor, while supervisor Lee Dimmitt voted against. It will require county employees and members of the public to wear a mask while in the courthouse, county attorney’s office or secondary roads office.
Hamilton said signs will be posted on the north and south entrances of the courthouse to inform the public of the change.
“This is nothing more than supporting what the governor came out with a week ago,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said he and Assistant County Attorney Pat McAvan had drawn up a resolution requiring masks in county buildings, and planned to bring it before the Board of Supervisors even before Gov. Reynolds announced a statewide mask mandate on Nov. 16.
Masks will be available in county offices for people who do not have one. Hamilton said that if a person refuses to wear a mask, they will be asked to leave the building.
“It’s not like the city where we are closing our doors to business,” Hamilton said, referring to the city of Fairfield’s recent announcement it has closed City Hall to foot traffic. “We’re staying open.”
Hamilton said the supervisors agreed there is much in-person business to conduct at the courthouse and wanted to do everything possible to keep it open. On Monday, Fairfield abstractor Tom Louden visited the recorder’s office, and remarked that he uses the record’s office every day in his line of work.
There are a few cases in which county employees will not have to wear a mask, such as if they are working in the office alone with no customers.
Hamilton said the mask requirement will apply to secondary roads officials when they are riding in a vehicle with another person, or when they work in an environment where they cannot maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from another person for 15 minutes or more.
The resolution also instructs the board to meet over Zoom instead of in-person at the courthouse as it has been. Hamilton said the county needs to get a new laptop for Dimmitt to use because his current one doesn’t work well.
Before the board passed this resolution Monday, offices in the courthouse had been following different standards regarding masks. Hamilton noted that the treasurer’s office gave masks to people who didn’t have one, but other offices didn’t always have masks available for that. The clerk of court’s office on the second floor required masks in its office but not for people sitting in the lobby. The assessor’s office on the third floor has not been requiring masks.
Two county buildings are not affected by the resolution because they have their own mask protocols already in place, and those are the Jefferson County Law Center and the Department of Human Services building on Maple Avenue. The law center now requires members of the public to buzz into the building from the vestibule just inside the entrance instead of from the lobby. Those without a mask will have one provided for them. The DHS office has asked the public to do business by appointment only.