Avon Lake City Council divided — by plexiglass — on masks

Coronavirus

AVON, Ohio (WJW)– A new mask policy is dividing some members of Avon Lake City Council with plexiglass.

Mayor Greg Zilka announced the city was once again requiring masks inside city buildings at a special council meeting last week.

The mayor cited rising case numbers of COVID-19, and said the decision was based on guidance from the Lorain County Health Commissioner and doctors with the Cleveland Clinic.

“When we started seeing the delta variant spreading and people with the vaccines also potentially spreading it that became very serious to me,” Zilka said. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”

The policy went into effect Monday. But almost immediately, the mayor said he was met with resistance from Councilman At-Large K.C. Zuber.

“The push back was that I don’t have the authority to do this,” Zilka said.

After being informed that the councilman wouldn’t be wearing a mask, at Monday night’s meeting Mayor Zilka had plexiglass dividers re-installed around his chair inside council chambers. A second council member, Councilman Zach Arnold also decided not wear a mask, and will now have plexiglass installed next to his seat too.

“It’s unfortunate that not everyone agrees with it, but I’ve had a lot of people, who I work with that are very glad that I put that back in place,” Zilka said. “People dealing with things like cancer, organ transplants, they are very sensitive to these kinds of challenges.”

(FOX 8 photo)

The mayor said he understands some people don’t think masks are effective against a virus. However, he said he believes they have been effective in slowing the spread of COVID and also seasonal influenza.

“It’s my experience that the masks have helped,” Zilka said. “Now we were in lockdown part of the time too, but there was a very significant decline in normal influenza.”

FOX 8 reached out to both councilmen for comment, but so far has not heard back from either member.

The mayor said the policy was modeled after Rocky River, and permits employees to remove the masks inside private offices and cubicles.

He said he hopes people will respect the rule, and said the plexiglass will remain until either the case numbers decline or the councilmen wear masks.

“It’s a small effort on the part of many people and we will be safer for it,” Zilka said.

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