The Village by the Sea has issued an emergency proclamation requiring individuals to wear face coverings when visiting the downtown corridor.
The question of what more the city could do to ensure masks are worn downtown was raised during the Monday night city council meeting by Langley Main Street Association Executive Director Michaleen McGarry.
McGarry reported seeing about a 50/50 split of people wearing face masks or other protective coverings. She said it would make others feel more comfortable if there were rules in place requiring the use of them.
Councilwoman Christy Korrow said that it is a concern of hers as well.
Korrow pointed to the Star Store as an example. The owner announced on social media that no one will be allowed inside the grocery store without a mask.
Mayor Tim Callison said he has heard about an increase of people coming to Langley and not respecting social distancing guidelines.
“For the people that are remaining open, we owe some kind of measure of protection that we can give them so that they’re not infected,” Callison said.
Councilman Thomas Gill suggested that a lot of people still don’t have masks or reliable ways to obtain them.
Gill added that it would behoove Langley to have masks available within the city, either at Langley City Hall or from police officers.
McGarry said that the Langley Main Street Association has a supply of masks it can give to officers.
Callison responded that masks could also be provided to stores and restaurants, which in turn could give them to customers not wearing face protection. He said Langley recently received $38,850 from the federal CARES Act, money the city could use to supply businesses with masks.
Callison said he’s spoken with McGarry and Langley Chamber of Commerce Director Inge Morascini about installing signs near the entrances to Langley.
Those signs would have positive wording to encourage people to practice safe shopping through the use of face coverings.
Councilwoman Dominique Emerson urged the mayor to issue an emergency proclamation. Callison agreed it would fall under his emergency powers to do so.
The council also agreed that a resolution should be written to support the proclamation.
Council members established the boundaries to extend from Fourth Street to the waterfront, including Seawall Park, and Park Avenue to Wharf Street.
People in their vehicles, or inside private areas, including their residences, are not asked to wear masks or other protective face coverings.
The motion to issue a proclamation and write a “safe shopping” resolution was approved unanimously.
Emerson suggested the new rule should go into effect Wednesday, so people have time to be notified.
Korrow encouraged positive messaging about the new order and its protective intent.
“It’s not about being scared or negative,” she said.
This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.