As COVID levels rise in Buncombe County, arts organizations are taking precautionary steps to support the health of the Asheville- Buncombe community.
More than 30 organizations have signed on to the Asheville Area Arts Council’s pledge to require masks indoors and strongly encourage masks outdoors.
“Arts leaders have been at the forefront of efforts to ensure the safety of our community since the pandemic began in March 2020 and will continue to do so as new challenges arise,” said Asheville Area Arts Council Executive Director Katie Cornell.
The arts council’s recent Creative Jobs Report shows the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation was the top creative sector in Buncombe County, growing 53% from 2015-19. By 2020, the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation industry had experienced the greatest percentage of employment loss in the county– an overall loss of 34% representing a decline of over 1,300 jobs according to Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. Many creative businesses also suffered over a year of closure due to necessary health restrictions. “Arts organizations are doing their part to support the community, but these businesses simply cannot withstand another shutdown. We need the community to do their part to support the arts by wearing a mask” said Cornell.
This mask requirement comes after the Center for Disease Control issued new guidelines on July 27th that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should wear a mask in public indoor settings to reduce the risk of becoming infected and transmitting the virus to others. Buncombe County Public Health Director Stacie Saunders also urged businesses to follow the CDC guidelines during the Stand Up for Your Business Town Hall meeting on August 5th.
“We are still in the middle of a global pandemic and we are currently seeing surges around the country more aggressive than anything we saw in 2020,” said Buncombe County Public Health Preparedness Director Fletcher Tove. “Each one of us has a role to play in safeguarding our community and that starts with getting vaccinated and wearing masks indoors.”
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