By Rohan Mattu

WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) —  The Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted against implementing a county-wide mask mandate in a special open session Thursday afternoon.

The commissioners did, however, vote to institute a modified mask policy for county government facilities. Unvaccinated government employees will need to wear a mask, and all visitors will need to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

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“We are not in favor of mandated masks for the entire county; however, we want to lead by example and are instituting a modified county facility policy to protect county resources and maintain county services,” said Commissioner Ed Rothstein. “As we begin 2022 during these challenging times, we will work to prioritize services that secure your safety, security, and quality of life.

The session was a COVID-19 briefing held with staff from Carroll Hospital, the Carroll County Health Department, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and other county staff amid a surge of infections spurred by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

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The vote didn’t happen without opposition. Commissioner Eric Bouchat vehemently opposed the policy.

“I will solicit every employee out there to get together and level a class action lawsuit against this guy (commissioner Rothstein) for discriminatory policy if this passes, and also solicit all the citizens out there and community to rise up as well, because this motion is nothing but virtue signaling by my colleagues because it accomplishes absolutely nothing,” he said.

Bouchat went on to express skepticism in the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. The modified mandate for county government buildings takes effect Monday, Jan. 1.

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