The town of Rotterdam is continuing to require residents entering town hall to be masked.
However, while that policy is in place, new Supervisor Mollie Collins said there is no real mechanism for enforcement.
Boxes of masks are located outside of the various departments, should someone forget theirs, she said, but if someone doesn’t want to wear it there’s no way the town could really make them wear one.
“How far do we go to attack a resident about the mask regulation?” Collins asked. “That’s the tricky part.”
She said if the state or county makes it a law then it’s a totally different standard.
Around 80% of the people at the town organizational meeting had masks and they had some in a box for those that forgot one, she said.
“Again at what point do you say, ‘OK, you can’t be at a public hearing if you’re not wearing a mask?’’’ she said. “I think that’s something that we really need guidance on from the state. I think it really has to go above the local level.”
This comes after board member Joe Mastroianni said he was making a statement during the board first meeting on Jan. 1 about the state’s mask mandate.
Mastroianni, who is also chairman of the town’s Health Committee, said he would not be wearing a mask until a law dictates he needs to.
It was also during the organizational meeting that board member Samantha Miller-Herrera stated she would not be voting for Megan Griffin as the COVID compliance officer because Griffin attended the meeting maskless. Griffin has made Facebook posts against masking mandates and in favor of the right to choose whether or not to get vaccinated.
Collins stands by her decisions to name Mastroianni as the chairman of the Health Committee and Griffin, who is also Collins’s confidential secretary, as the COVID compliance officer.
“He feels that masks can sometimes be a detriment to someone’s health,” she said about Mastroianni.
She also said it all whittles down to “how much interference are we allowed to do to individuals?”
Collins said she doesn’t have a problem with masks but there are some people who may have medical issues preventing them or making it harder for them to wear masks.
Ultimately she said Mastroianni will oversee the committee, which makes recommendations to the board for approval.
As for Griffin, Collins said Griffin’s personal choices and what she does in the office are two separate matters.
“Now when she comes in here, the minute that she hits the door or beforehand she has a mask on her face,” she said. “It stays on her face the entire time she’s here. There’s no complaining or anything else about it. She knows these are the rules and she’s happy to follow them. Now what she does in her private life I don’t have a choice to say.”
Griffin said whenever she is in the office she is always complying with COVID protocols.
“I have the knowledge and experience to provide any and all updates to the Town of Rotterdam employees regarding the current COVID mandates,” she said in an email.
“My personal life and anything I choose to do outside of work, are my personal decisions and I leave you with that.”
Griffin sent a letter to town employees Thursday introducing herself as the new COVID compliance officer and acknowledging her experience as a former healthcare professional. “This position comes with a great deal of trust and experience I have to offer, and I welcome the task,” she said in the email. “My background for the last 18 years has been specifically in healthcare. The last two years alone were centered around being on the frontlines of covid patient care, covid testing and covid guidance. As the guidelines change here and there, I vow to keep everyone informed of policy and procedures.”
The county does not patrol for people who aren’t complying with the mask mandate, said Schenectady County Manager Rorry Fluman.
However, he said if the county gets a number of complaints about a place then health educators are first sent in. If the complaints continue to roll in and the person or place is still egregiously refusing to comply, a fee of anywhere from $25 to upwards of $1,000 could be levied. But, he said education is always the first route taken.