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Montgomery County Recommends Masks Indoors Regardless Of Vaccination Status, Requires Them In County Buildings

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) -- Montgomery County says state data shows substantial community transmission in the county for more than two weeks. Officials are now mandating masks in county-run buildings.

Starting Monday, masks are required for staff and visitors in buildings like the courthouse.

Montgomery County health officials are also recommending everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face mask when inside at businesses. Health officials say this is a recommendation and not a requirement.

"We are recommending to all business owners and others who have public indoor spaces that everyone wear masks," Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Val Arkoosh said.

The county says businesses have the legal right to ask people to show their vaccination cards for admission, but they are leaving the decision to require proof of vaccination up to the businesses.

Arkoosh says businesses should put up signs encouraging masks to remind people. Another option is for businesses to have masks available for customers when they walk into the building.

She doesn't want employees to get into altercations with patrons over asking them to wear a mask.

"I recommend to businesses that they go ahead and put signs up, reminding people. I don't want anyone to get in altercations with customers, make sure they have masks available, having them available when folks walk in the doors, maybe a suggestion to put a mask on could go a long way to keep the community safe," Arkoosh said.

Many shoppers we spotted on Sunday were already wearing one, according to Montgomery County Director of Communications Kelly Cofrancisco.

"I'm ordering curbside," one man said. "I'm waiting for them to bring the food out. If I was going in, I would have a mask on, too."

Others are willing to do anything to stop the spread.

"Whatever it takes to get rid of the pandemic," Tom Egan told CBS3.

But not everyone is on board.

"I think that every business should have the right to do as they please and let the citizens decide," Daniel Dillard said.

The guidance does not apply outdoors.

"Generally speaking, if you are vaccinated, it is not recommended that you mask outdoors," Cofrancisco said.

Arkoos says the Delta variant is impacting mostly unvaccinated people. That's about 23% of the county. That doesn't mean those who are vaccinated are necessarily off the hook.

"If a vaccinated person is infected with the delta variant, it's quite possible they will produce enough virus - even if they don't feel sick - that they could be contagious to others," Dr. Arkoosh said.

Most people CBS3 spoke with hope a majority will cover up for the good of the community.

"At the end of the day, it is their right not to wear a mask," Katrice Bailey said. "But it's very important that you're mindful of other people."

Alicia Roberts and Stephanie Stahl contributed to this report. 

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