By Nathan Ham
On Tuesday, the Town of Blowing Rock issued its own masking guidance requiring everyone to wear a mask inside town-owned buildings, including town hall, the police department, and the American Legion Building. The State of Emergency went into effect at 5 p.m. yesterday.
The masking policy does not require that people wear masks indoors in privately owned businesses, however, the town “strongly encourages” store patrons and employees to do so and businesses also have the right to determine their masking policies, according to the declaration.
The policy will remain in effect until further notice, according to the town.
A more strict application of a masking ordinance went into effect in Boone on Tuesday as well with all public buildings within the town limits of Boone requiring employees and visitors to wear masks indoors at all times.
From data provided by AppHealthCare as of Thursday morning, the number of active positive COVID-19 infections in Watauga County is now at 71 after being at 59 on Wednesday morning. Ashe County currently has 68 positive cases, an increase from 57 on Wednesday, and Alleghany County has 14 positive cases, an increase from13 on Wednesday.
STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARATION OF THE TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK
August 10, 2021
WHEREAS, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (hereinafter, “COVID-19” or “coronavirus”) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization; the Governor of North Carolina has declared a State of Emergency and imposed restrictions as delineated ln certain Executive Orders; and cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within Watauga County; and
WHEREAS, Watauga County and the Town of Blowing Rocli previously issued State of Emergency Declarations on grounds that there was and continues to be an imminent threat of, or existing conditions have caused or will cause, widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property, and that a declaration of emergency is necessary in order to more effectively protect the lives and property of people within the County and the Town of Blowing Rock; and
WHEREAS, the foregoing State of Emergency orders were repealed on May 18, 2021, due to much improved transmission rates and trends existing at that time, and substantial success with respect to federal and state vaccination efforts, among other considerations; and
WHEREAS, beginning several months ago, the “Delta Variant” of COVID-19 began spreading quickly across the United States;
WHEREAS, as of this date, North Carolina’s and Watauga County’s daily case counts and hospitalizations for’ COVID-19 are quickly increasing due to the Delta Vai’iant, which spreads at least twice as easily as prior variants; and
WHEREAS, there has recently been a significant rise in the number of confirmed COVID- 19 cases in Watauga County, which is now considered to have “substantial” transmission, and even more in adjacent counties, including Ashe, Wilkes and Burke Counties, which have “high transmission”; and
WHEREAS, the risk of COVID-19 transmission remains high, particularly with regard to indoor settings with an increased likelihood of close contact, and has substantially increased as a result of the spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus; and
WHEREAS, evidence cited by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that a significant portion of individuals with the coronavirus are asymptomatic, and that pre-symptomatic persons can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms; and
WHEREAS, evidence indicates that masks and cloth face coverings are effective to reduce
air-borne transmission of the coronavirus, and the CDC has issued guidance recommending the wearing of face coverings, including for vaccinated persons, in indoor settings in locales with “substantial” or “high” transmission; and
WHEREAS, the 4 own of Blowing Rock is a destination for traveler‘s and visitors from all over North Cai’o1ina and the United States, including from states with much higher per capita rates of COVID-19 infection than the State of North Carolina or Watauga County; and
WHEREAS, in light of the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blowing Rock Town Council hereby determines that there is an imminent threat of, or existing conditions have caused or will cause, widespread or severe damage, injury, of loss of life or property, and that a declaration of emergency is necessary in order to more effectively protect the lives and property of people within the Town of Blowing Rock; and
WHEREAS, N.C. Gen. Stat.§l66A-19.31(b) and Town Code chapter 9 authorize the BloWlng Rock Town Council to prohibit and restrict the movement of people in public places; to place prohibitions and restrictions on the operation of offices, business establishments, and other places to or from which people may travel or at which they may congregate; and to regulate or prohibit other activities or conditions the control of which may be reasonably necessary to maintain order and protect lives or property during the state of emergency;
NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in the Blowing Rock Town Council under N.C.G.S. §166A-19.22, N.C.G.S. §166A-19.31, and Chapter 9 of the Town of Blowing Rocli Code of Ordinances, the Blowing Rock Town Council declares the following:
Section 1. A State of Emergency is hereby declared in the town limits of the Town of Blowing Rock for the reasons specified above.
Section 2. Based upon available information including but not limited to that set forth above, the Blowing Roclc Town Council finds and declares that it is in the best interests of Blowing Rock’s residents, workers, and visitors that the following restrictions shall apply in the Town of Blowing Rocli corporate limits:
- Mask/face coverings are required in all Town-owned buildings, i.e. Town Hall, Police Station, Fire Station, American Legion Building, Community Building, etc. by Town employees and visitors to these buildings.
However, this provision requiring the wearing of a Face Covering does not apply to the following persons or ln the following situations:
- to those people who cannot wear’ a Face Covering due to a medical or behavioral condition, including but not limited to anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance;
- to children who are two (2) years of age or younger;
- when an employee is working in their personal office with isolation possible
- when a person is complying with directions issued by a law enforcement officer as provided at Session Law 2020-3 s. 4.3.(a)) (amending G.S. § 14-12.11(c)).
- when a person is actively eating or drinking
(b) DEFINITIONS. For purposes of the foregoing provisions, the following definitions apply:
i. “Face Covering” means a covering of the nose and mouth by wearing a covering or mask for the purpose of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others. See Session Law 2020-3 s. 4.3.(a)) (amending G.S. 14-12.11). A face covering can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. Acceptable, reusable face covering options for the general public include bandanas, neck gaiters, homemade face coverings, scarves, or tightly woven fabric such as cotton t-shirts and some types of towels.
Section 3. Every business in the Town of Blowing Rock is strongly encouraged to require its employees and customers to wear mask/face coverings while indoors and when isolation cannot be achieved. Every business in the Town of Blowing Rock is and remains free to adopt such additional COVID-19 protective provisions for its staff and patrons as such business may see fit. The Blowing Rock Police Department will support such businesses upon request by appropriate enforcement of the state’s trespassing laws.
Section 4. The restrictions set forth in this Amendment shall be effective within the corporate limits of the Town of Blowing Rock beginning on Tuesday, August 11, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. and shall remain in effect until further notice.
Section 5. This declaration shall be distributed to the news media and other organizations calculated to bring its contents to the attention of the general public; filed with Town Clerk; distributed to others as necessary to ensure proper implementation of this declaration; and otherwise distributed as specified at N.C.G.. 166A-19.31(d).