(Clarinda) -- Page County officials are loosening COVID-19-related restrictions at the courthouse next week.
Meeting in regular session Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved discontinuing having a door monitor screen the public entering the courthouse starting Monday. In July, the supervisors re-opened the courthouse to the public after operating under modified conditions during the pandemic. Under the re-opening plan, patrons were required to use only the south door, wear a mask and pass a temperature check. Supervisors Chair Chuck Morris says the consensus among county leaders is that those measures are no longer necessary.
"I went around the courthouse and talked with department heads to ask them for their input on what their feelings were," said Morris. "I think there was clearly a consensus that they would like to see us open things up and discontinue the door monitor."
Under the new measures, masks will no longer be mandatory, but will be recommended in common areas of the courthouse. Supervisor Alan Armstrong says keeping masks mandatory creates an enforcement problem without a dedicated door monitor.
"In going around town and seeing how the signs say it's preferred or mandatory in some stores and people lift it off as soon as they walk in," said Armstrong. "Who is going to be the guy that has to say 'put it on or get out.' That's what worries me."
Individual department heads can still require masks within their offices for customers and masks are required in the Clerk of Court's Office and in the courtroom, as those are under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Supreme Court. Armstrong says the other offices in the courthouse have plastic shields to protect employees from customers.
"If they have to be in a confrontational situation or in a situation where they need to walk out in the public, put the mask on and protect yourself and protect others," said Armstrong. "But as far as when you're in behind the shields, I would assume that would protect them. If they're not wearing their mask, it's probably just as safe as we are in here."
In addition to the new mask language, the supervisors voted to re-open all doors to the building. Morris says having the north door open helps at busy times when parking around the courthouse can get tight.
"Sometimes parking is tough over on the south side," said Morris. "There's usually a visitor spot somewhere in that lot (on the north side). If somebody is not as mobile, it's a little handier for them."
In other business, the board approved a bid of $2,450 from Mascher Construction for demolition and excavation work at the county farm south of Clarinda.