Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron announced Monday that he will not mandate masks county-wide but instead has elected to follow a new initiative entitled “#RutherfordResponsible,” strongly encouraging masks when social distancing is impractical.
On Thursday morning, Ketron released a letter to all County employees outlining a series of guidelines for mask-wearing in Rutherford County offices. The policy, which went into effect immediately, also addresses the general public wearing masks upon entering County office buildings. While it will be up to the constitutional offices to adopt this initiative, Ketron expressed his hopefulness that they will follow suit.
“As Rutherford County employees, we should set the standard for such practices and lead by example,” said Ketron’s letter.
Ketron acknowledged that the guidelines may vary for differing departments, leaving specific masking expectations up to department heads in many cases. However, “all employees who routinely interact with the public shall wear a face covering when social distancing is impractical.”
Employees are also required to wear masks in internal common areas such as the mail room, break rooms, and common hallways and lobbies.
Those in isolated offices do not have to wear a mask unless they have a visitor and cannot socially distance six feet or more apart.
Maintenance and facilities employees will generally not be required to wear a mask while working outside, but if several are working on a project, they are asked to socially distance.
“We are also requiring the general public to wear masks in our buildings,” said Mayor Ketron. “We realize there will be instances when someone does not have a mask readily available. We will be happy to provide them with one. If someone does not wish to mask due to a medical condition or otherwise, we will offer alternative accommodations to meet their requests.”
Ketron noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is fluid and dynamic and the guidelines may be adjusted at any time based on various factors throughout the ongoing health situation.
“These are unusual times that we are in, but I know we will get through this together,” said Ketron. He also thanked employees for their dedication to Rutherford County and their willingness to participate in the #RutherfordResponsible initiative to slow the spread of the virus in the community.