Washington’s citywide mask ordinance is no longer in effect.
The ordinance, which was approved by the Washington City Council on Nov. 23 and required masks in public places, was lifted after three of the metrics the city uses to measure the spread of COVID-19 were out of the red zone for four consecutive weeks. Those metrics include new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
In the announcement Monday, Feb. 22, city officials said the council’s Aug. 19 resolution supporting the voluntary wearing of face coverings in public places in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines was still in effect.
“We recommend the CDC mitigation practices to reduce the exposure to all individuals,” the city said in a press release.
Washington Emergency Management Director Mark Skornia said he felt the mask ordinance was effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
“The original objective was to minimize the impact on health care facilities throughout the community,” Skornia said. “In combination of the mitigations and the fact people are gathering less due to the winter ... has resulted in numbers lowering — daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all down.”
Skornia said the city is hoping citizens will volunteer to still take mitigation measures against the virus.
“We’re hopeful that the numbers will remain manageable,” he said.
Businesses and organizations in the Washington area can still require masking and other restrictions despite the citywide ordinance no longer being in effect.
City Administrator Darren Lamb said masks still will be required at city buildings.
Washington Public Library Director Nelson Appell said while masking is still required at the library, the occupancy limit has been lifted. Previously, only 20 patrons were allowed in the building.
“We do not reach (the occupancy) limit (of 20 people) anyway. ... We don’t find that to be a problem, and social distancing has been fine,” Appell told the library board at its Monday, Feb. 22 meeting.
“We will still be asking people to limit their time (in the library) if possible,” Appell said. “We will not be using the meeting room yet. We will still be offering curbside pickup and quarantining books for two days.”
The restriction of city property rentals is also lifted for the time being, according to Lamb.
“For the time being we are not going to be concerned with that,” Lamb said. “Unless we start seeing (an increase in) numbers.”
The council approved the policy Sept. 21, and it went into effect Oct. 1 of last year.
Lamb said the city doesn’t get a lot of reservations for February and March. “Things start to get a little busier when April comes around.”