2021 | Coronavirus

Gaithersburg, Rockville implement mask mandates in city buildings

County to decide Thursday whether to require masks in all indoor spaces

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As County Council members consider whether to reimplement a countywide indoor mask mandate, two cities have taken a smaller step in that direction, requiring mask use in municipal buildings.

The city of Gaithersburg said Monday that all staff members and visitors older than 2 must wear a face covering in city buildings, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. 

“The safety of our staff, residents and visitors is our paramount concern,” Gaithersburg City Manager Tanisha Briley said in a prepared statement. “Masking has proven very effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“We encourage everyone to get vaccinated, and we will continue to do our part to reduce transmission by requiring indoor masking and physical distancing until such time as it is safe to remove these restrictions.”

Many of Gaithersburg’s buildings — City Hall, the Department of Public Works, the Police Department — are open to the public.

Down Md. 355, Rockville city officials have not reopened most of their buildings yet.

Rockville City Manager Rob DiSpirito said in an interview that outside some park and recreation facilities, the city has not reopened municipal buildings to the public.

At a meeting on Monday, Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and City Council members discussed the logistics of reopening.

DiSpirito added that city officials reimplemented an indoor mask mandate for all staff members on Friday, after speaking with Newton and the City Council. 

“There’s very concerning information about the [Delta] variant,” he said. “And this is public safety, so we’re erring on the side of caution.”

Both Gaithersburg and Rockville’s decisions come as the County Council is scheduled to decide on Thursday whether to reimplement an indoor mask mandate in both public and private buildings.

County health officials have said they would recommend returning to a mask mandate if there are at least 75 new coronavirus cases for seven straight days, or 525 over a seven-day period. 

Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said there currently is no indoor mask mandate for county-operated and run buildings and facilities. That would be part of a vote to approve a proposed Board of Health regulation, which would apply to all indoor spaces in public facilities and private businesses countywide. 

The County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com