Falmouth Board of Health is recommending a mask mandate in town-controlled public buildings. The board voted unanimously to bring the decision to the select board during their meeting on Monday, January 3.

“This recommendation would be in the lane of not only providing public health protection but [also act as] an example to the public and [an] example of the [public’s] concern they have when they are in public buildings,” board member George Heufelder said.

The board will also recommend that the select board encourage the chamber of commerce to consider asking business owners to implement mask mandates at their businesses.

“If we are trying to role model, then you want to encourage as many people as possible to do it,” chairwoman Diana Molloy said.

The department has received around 20 emails and phone calls related to mask mandates, Health Agent Scott McGann said.

Mr. Heufelder suggested the mandate in town-owned buildings to set an example for the community.

“It does have value beyond the buildings themselves,” Mr. Heufelder said. “I am looking at it as a tiered approach. I think first of all telling everybody everywhere in the town that they cannot go into any building without a mask, that’s a pretty dramatic step. I do not believe we are at that point yet.”

The board agreed that roughly 75 percent of the town is currently wearing masks while out in public spaces.

“I think a lot of people see the other people around them wearing masks and they put them on; so it is just pushing things a little bit more in that direction,” board member Kevin Kroger said.

Board member Benjamin Van Mooy wanted the board to further consider the strain a mask mandate would put on the health department’s limited resources with the expected influx of phone calls.

“In trying to take a broad view of public health-keeping, a health department functioning is an important priority for the public in this town, and I am concerned with a mask mandate that will impact that,” Mr. Van Mooy said.

With a mask mandate in place, Mr. McGann said he would have to transition one of his employees to COVID-19 compliance.

“The message, I think, is pretty low-key but a very powerful message. That the town, we feel strongly about it enough but not enough to step out and enforce everybody to do it,” Mr. Heufelder said, reiterating the department does not have the manpower to enforce a full mask mandate at this time.

Mr. McGann said he will bring the board’s recommendation to the select board at their next meeting on Monday, January 10.

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