Kinston City Council considering mask mandate in city buildings

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – The debate continues on whether to be required to mask up or not. The Kinston City Council discussed at its first meeting of the year a possible requirement for people entering city buildings.

A mandate is already in place for city employees inside facilities. Councilman Chris Suggs said it’s important to reiterate that message right now.

“This moment we’re in with the pandemic, it’s important we keep our workforce strong and healthy, including those who work for our local and city governments,” Suggs said. “Our mask requirement for city employees right now really meets the moment for this pandemic.”

The rise of COVID-19 across the state and in Lenoir County is causing the council to think about expanding the mandate.

“In Lenoir County, our numbers are the highest we have seen … ever since the start of the pandemic,” said Kinston Mayor Don Hardy.

Suggs suggested in Tuesday’s meeting to extend the requirement to any person entering a city building.

“What folks do with their private businesses, grocery stores, that’s on them, but us as elected officials, we have a responsibility to keep our community safe,” Suggs said to the council.

The council ultimately decided to make masks and hand sanitizer available to people entering these facilities and will strongly encourage the use of both when entering. They’ll consider an emergency requirement for masks if the COVID-19 situation worsens.

Masks are still required for city employees.

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