WELLFLEET — The board of health is considering a set of mandatory safety standards for municipal workplaces after a visit to town hall set off alarms last week.
Health Agent Hillary Greenberg-Lemos told the board at its Oct. 14 meeting that she was worried about the health and safety of town staff because they were not wearing masks in shared spaces and in meetings inside town hall and the DPW building.
“Nobody should be answering the front door of town hall without a mask on,” Greenberg-Lemos said, adding that one of the only ways to prevent transmission of the coronavirus was to wear a mask when in the presence of other people. “That’s not negotiable,” she said.
The health agent was accompanied on the visit by health board member Janet Drohan and by Assistant Health Agent Doug Guey-Lee.
Staff have returned to work full-time at the town offices, Greenberg-Lemos reported, but there appears to be no enforcement of mask use rules. “I don’t want my staff, my colleagues, to be put in unnecessary risk,” she said. “I shouldn’t be hearing from staff that they are nervous, they’re uncomfortable, and they’re worried.”
“It is evident that we need to take a stand,” agreed Drohan.
Town Administrator Maria Broadbent told the Independent on Tuesday that staff members were not required to wear masks at town hall, but it wasn’t a problem because the building is not open to the public. Employees are able to do their jobs, she said, while staying at least six feet away from each other.
“They can certainly wear a mask if they’re comfortable,” said Broadbent. “We have very few in-person meetings that happen among staff. I think there’s probably people on the board of health that would like people to wear masks all the time. People have to do what they’re comfortable with. They’re much further away from each other than the state requires.”
Greenberg-Lemos said that she had talked to town staff, sent out emails, and put together the draft document that was reviewed during the Oct. 14 meeting: the Town of Wellfleet Covid-19 Mandatory Safety Standards and Workplace Training Manual.
The front door of town hall is the only location in the building where there is a sign stating that face coverings are required. Drohan said there needed to be a change of attitude about wearing masks. “The mission here,” she said, “is the safety of our town.”
The health board discussed options for mask enforcement. They agreed that the first step was the mandatory safety plan, including mandatory staff training. If there is still noncompliance after the training, the health board agreed to consider options for enforcement, including notifying the select board.