Home News and Features City News Montpelier Reinstates Mask Mandate Effective Immediately

Montpelier Reinstates Mask Mandate Effective Immediately

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Poster sent to businesses by Montpelier Alive in 2020. Courtesy of Montpelier Alive

The Montpelier City Council passed an emergency order requiring a city-wide mask mandate in public buildings last night. The order was passed unanimously and is effective immediately.

The order calls for any person, whether employee, owner, or visitor, entering any building open to the public to wear a mask, “over mouth and nose, while inside the building, regardless of vaccination status,” said Mayor Anne Watson.

“It is vital to do what we can to prevent further transmission of this disease that’s potentially deadly,” said district 2 councilor Jack McCullough. “The science tells us that vaccinations and masks are the two things we can do that are really effective in protecting ourselves and the people we come into contact with.” 

Montpelier resident Diane Sophrin commented that without a mask mandate, she feels “always on the lookout.”

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“… one of the things I find most upsetting … is that I’m always on guard against my neighbors, my fellow residents. I think that’s not a good thing. No one wants to catch the virus,” Sophrin said, adding that “not having a mask mandate forces me to do almost all of my shopping online, except for stores that require masks or do curbside. I find it ironic that some people concerned about the economic well being of our stores also don’t want a mask. … I would be much more comfortable going into stores if there were [a mask mandate].”

A man who did not clearly state his name commented that he wears a mask in public, but doesn’t want to be told that he has to wear one. “This is political correctness run amok,” he said … It’s totally unenforceable … I think you’re way overreaching in a fool’s errand.” 

Plainfield resident, Eva Thera, who described herself as a public health specialist, said “I believe this is an exercise in human decency. … I think it’s important to institute a mask mandate.”

City councilors Jay Ericson, Lauren Hierl, and Conor Casey all expressed disappointment that Gov. Phil Scott has not required a statewide mask mandate and rather passed the job on to select boards and city councils. 

City Manager Bill Fraser pointed out that the Vermont legislation allows the city to mandate masks indoors but not outdoors;  and businesses may have policies that are more stringent, he said. He also said that municipalities are authorized to enforce the mandate with fines, but Montpelier has chosen to keep that out of the current emergency order. Under the statute, he said, the mask mandate “has to be re-upped every 45 days,” and could include a fine in the future if the council found it necessary.

Mayor Anne Watson concluded “I think this is the right choice for us to make, and not every community is making this choice. I think we’re doing the right thing for us.”