Montgomery County could make face masks mandatory for businesses

Forty thousand cloth masks manufactured locally by Custom Ink of Fairfax, Virginia, are expected to be delivered Wednesday to Montgomery County, Maryland, for its employees.

And the County Council is now considering a requirement that workers in private businesses wear facial masks to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

The measure to be considered next Tuesday would require businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, to provide masks for employees by April 16. Then, by month’s end, customers would be required to wear them too.

“We’re seeing now [that] grocery store workers are starting to die,” said councilmember Hans Riemer, the proposal’s co-sponsor, during Tuesday’s council meeting.

“If you go to the store, if you get on a bus, if you get grocery pickup, you will see many workers who are unprotected — whether it’s because they’re not wearing a facial mask or the customers in the store are not wearing them,” Riemer noted.

Reimer does not suggest people buy medical grade masks such as the N95, which should be reserved for front-line health care workers, but he said cloth masks do offer protection and are better than nothing.

“There are many options you can make at home. You don’t have to buy anything to be more protected and to protect people around you more than just going without any facial covering,” Riemer said.


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Remarking that it’s unknown how long the current crisis will last, and that there’s likely to be a resurgence of the virus in the fall and next spring, Riemer suggested the county should purchase a stockpile of masks and put a policy in place.

“There’s no reason we can’t be more forceful than the CDC has been,” he said.

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