Boone Town Council votes 3-2 for public mask mandate, begins June 20

Emily Broyles, Reporter

Boone residents and visitors must wear face coverings in all indoor establishments open to the public beginning 9 a.m. on June 20, after the Boone Town Council voted 3-2 for the mandate June 16. This comes after a statewide and local increase in lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

Councilperson Sam Furgiuele requested a consideration of the mandate after first requesting a motion for required face coverings at the May 26 meeting. The council voted against the mandate 2-3.

“As public officials, I believe we must do everything we can to protect the citizens of Boone during this virtually unprecedented crisis. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but am trying to make the best decisions I can with the information which is available to me,” Furgiuele wrote in an email. 

In meeting materials, Furgiuele said he has seen “very few people” wearing masks in the community. Furgiuele said he informed his decision in supporting the requirement of face coverings based on information from the CDC and North Carolina Health Director Mandy Cohen. 

Everything reliable which I have read suggests that wearing masks will help reduce the transmission rate… I have been monitoring infection and death rates in adjoining and nearby counties through which many of our tourists travel, posted by the State Department of Health and Human Services,” Furgiuele said. “I believe it was the right thing to do.”

The mask mandate requires all Boone residents and visitors to wear a face covering when in an indoor establishment with the exception of those who have health issues tied to wearing a mask, those who are eating and drinking at tables and children younger than 10 years old. 

If one does not wear a mask, an infraction would be given as punishment; however, police would educate on the first offense, and give a warning before writing an infraction. The mandate will not be enforced for an additional three weeks.