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Sununu extends controversial mask mandate

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 5:52 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Governor Chris Sununu is extending New Hampshire’s statewide mask mandate which was set to expire Friday. As Adam Sullivan reports, the order remains a controversial topic for some Granite Staters.

“At the end of the day, you have to do what you have to do to protect people,” said Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin.

Hanover issued its own mask mandate back in August. Several months later, the state followed suit, becoming the last state in New England requiring residents to wear masks into businesses and outside in places where they cannot socially distance.

“We were pleased when the state finally did it but I would argue that we would have seen lower virus numbers in New Hampshire,” Griffin said.

New Hampshire residents will be required to wear masks for a little bit longer. Sununu cites high case rates, hospitalizations, and fatalities for extending the statewide mandate.

“Ultimately, he did do the right thing. It’s a little later than I would have liked but it is better late than never,” said Tom Cleaveland, a Springfield, N.H., resident.

The original statewide mandate sparked outrage from some Granite Staters who felt the governor was overstepping his authority. Sununu says armed protestors outside his home became increasingly aggressive, which ultimately forced him to cancel his public inauguration ceremony.

“Disgraceful. We have an electoral process. That is how we are supposed to resolve these types of disputes,” Cleveland said.

“I think the governor has been walking a very fine line,” said Linda Fowler, a political science professor at Dartmouth College.

The Granite State is known for its “Live Free or Die” motto, but Fowler says at times people believe their own rights are more important than their neighbors. Or in this case, the governor’s. “They didn’t sign up to live next to a governor who is being targeted this way, and this is why I think people’s insistence on their rights at the expense of other people’s rights is really out of hand,” she said.

In his statement, Sununu said there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic, but he said residents must remain vigilant and “we can not let up now.”

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