Brattleboro votes to end mask mandate

Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 4:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 6:06 AM EDT
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - Individual communities throughout our region have kept mask mandates in place even as state guidelines have loosened. But come Friday, the mask mandate in Brattleboro is being lifted.

“I think it is time,” said Kayte Bak, the chief nursing officer at the Brattleboro Retreat. She says when it comes to masks, access to the vaccine is the main reason she supports things getting back to normal. “I still -- as you can see --bring my mask with me and if there is a store or restaurant that requires a mask, I have it with me.”

The chair of Brattleboro’s select board says it’s the data that drove the decision to end the mask mandate, although businesses that want to keep their own policy in place are welcome to do so.

“I don’t think we have figured that one out yet,” said Robert Woodworth, the owner of Burrow’s Specialized Sports on Main Street. A “mask required” sign is posted out front. He says that will likely be removed Friday, but it’s a decision he’s not taking lightly. “First off, that my employees don’t feel like they are in an unsafe environment -- that is paramount. And secondly, to be fair to the public.”

“I believed it was too soon,” said Jessica Gelter, the lone select board member who did not want to see the town mandate go away. “I just feel like it is not that much of an ask to continue for a few more weeks. At least until our teenagers who sit at our retail counters are vaccinated.” She also worries about the busy summer tourism season.

Lisa Chang is visiting from California. “Since it was required inside, we just walked out and probably just forgot to take them off. We are so used to wearing masks now,” Chang said. She says she loves Brattleboro and celebrates the fact that nearly 80% of Vermont’s eligible population has received the Covid-19 vaccine. “I think if you are getting close to 80% that is amazing. And I think that maybe everybody should be rewarded by being able to take their masks off.”

As we all continue to navigate our way through the pandemic, one resident said that the decision of whether to wear masks will come down to every individual’s personal choice and what they feel most comfortable with.

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