Business, Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn to require masks in city buildings

LYNN — With COVID-19 cases rising again across the country with the emergence of the highly-contagious Delta variant, Mayor Thomas M. McGee announced Tuesday night that anyone visiting or working in municipal buildings must wear a face mask. 

This policy, which becomes effective on Thursday, will also extend to school buildings; masks will be required for all staff and students at the start of the school year. In addition, McGee “strongly encouraged” Lynn businesses to reimplement indoor mask requirements for their staff and customers. 

In his announcement, which was sent to all city employees Tuesday and shared later that evening with the public, McGee cited the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that recommends indoor mask wearing for all areas with a “substantial” risk of COVID-19 transmission, which currently includes Essex County. 

“Our top priority for the last 18 months has been to ensure the safety and health of all of  our residents,” said McGee. “We must remain vigilant in the public health successes we have achieved to date, and that requires being proactive and following the science that wearing a mask reduces transmission and vaccines reduce the severity of illness. 

“There is also consideration for residents who are vulnerable because of their age or health status, and children who are below the allowable age for vaccination,” he said. 

Under the new order, all employees, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose while inside city buildings during work hours, except for when they are seated at their designated work stations, or using break time to eat or drink. 

The mask order applies to all common areas, during meetings, when employees are inside city vehicles with more than one occupant, and while interacting with the public. Department heads will be tasked with enforcing the mask policy; any employee found to not be in compliance with the policy will be subject to a progressive discipline that could ultimately result in suspension or termination of employment, the mayor’s office said.

Visitors must also wear a mask while inside city buildings; if visitors do not have a mask, one will be provided to them before they are allowed to enter the building. 

City boards and commissions are encouraged to conduct their meetings remotely at this time; if meetings are held in person, masks must be worn by all those in attendance. All Lynn Auditorium staff and show attendees must now wear masks, except when eating or drinking. 

City employees who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition must provide documentation to the Personnel Department at City Hall, the mayor’s office said. 

While case rates have been rising in the city, McGee, in his announcement, touted the city’s success in working with the Lynn Community Health Center to fully vaccinate a majority of its residents. As of Tuesday, 76 percent of the city’s eligible population had received at least one dose and 69 percent had been fully vaccinated, according to the mayor’s office.

“As we implement these next steps, we will continue to work with state and federal officials and public-health experts to adjust their guidance in response to emerging scientific data, encourage and help all residents to become fully vaccinated and ensure that adequate testing remains available to all who need it,” said McGee.

The state’s free “Stop the Spread” testing has been extended at the Lynn site, 398 Blossom St., through Oct. 31. Free vaccines for residents ages 12 and older are available at City Hall, Room 401, on Tuesdays from 2-7 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; and at Lynn Community Health Center, 269 Union St., Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mobile vaccine walk-in sessions are available in multiple locations; check the city website for more information. 

More Stories From Lynn