Council urges mayor to recommend masking in downtown businesses

Langley is strongly encouraging businesses to require that their employees and customers mask up.

Just two months after the withdrawal of its mask mandate, the city of Langley is now strongly encouraging businesses to require that their employees and customers mask up, even if vaccinated.

The recommendation, which does not carry as much weight as the former mask mandate, originated during a city council meeting this week. It coincides with recommendations from health officials across the nation as cases of the COVID-19 delta variant have surged while many people remain unvaccinated.

Councilmember Christy Korrow pointed to recent cases of COVID-19 among employees at the Braeburn in downtown Langley and the Flowerhouse Cafe in Bayview as a cause for concern.

“It just made me think we should have a discussion about it to make sure we’re doing enough as a city to share information with the community,” she said.

Councilmember Dominique Emerson said she knew of 16 people — all vaccinated but one — who recently contracted COVID-19. She did not specify whether those people lived in Langley or not.

Councilmember Craig Cyr pointed out that Island County’s vaccination rate is lagging behind other counties, such as King County.

“We’re in trouble out here,” he said. “Breakthrough cases are scary and the delta variant is so much more transmissible.”

Mayor Scott Chaplin said he would not be inclined to pursue a vaccine mandate, but he did support a recommendation for those at Langley businesses to mask up.

“I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet,” he said.

Inge Morascini, executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, said she did a survey and 25% of businesses have reinstated masking policies for customers. For employees, that number is 50 to 60% of businesses.

In a statement, she encouraged masking indoors.

Councilmember Thomas Gill agreed with her.

“I think we really should be encouraging indoor use, especially in businesses that don’t have any space to distance, which is basically everybody in Langley,” he said. “Much like we did last year, I think we’re better safe than sorry.”

Holly Price, co-owner of Edit, said she brought back a mask requirement at her store when she saw the number of COVID-19 cases increasing recently.

“Businesses should not be, in my opinion, nervous about reinstating masks,” she said.

In the end, the council members unanimously agreed that the mayor should issue a statement recommending the use of masks by both employees and customers at Langley businesses, despite vaccination status.

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