More communities approve mask mandates

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 11:56 PM EST
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A number of towns continue to take up the issue of mask mandates.

The city of Rutland is one of the municipalities opting out. Board of Aldermen President Matthew Whitcomb said they’re sticking with what the Rutland Regional CEO is recommending. “The overwhelming majority is -- people don’t want to see a mask mandate,” Whitcomb said. He added that the word mandate scares people.

While neighboring Rutland Town implemented a mask mandate, Whitcomb said they have no plans to do the same. However, a resolution encouraging people to wear masks and allocating resources toward supplies and education passed unanimously. “We know we can’t enforce a mask mandate,” Whitcomb said. “We really want to take the approach of education and really suggest to people -- this is the right thing to do to keep yourself safe and keep others safe. We want to make that as easy as possible for you to do.”

Meanwhile, South Burlington, Essex, and Winooski have voted in favor of limited mandates. South Burlington’s new rule covers just municipal buildings open to the public but officials will ask businesses to put up signs educating people about mask-wearing. They’ll revisit the mandate in 45 days, then every 30 subsequently. Officials say there’s been very little pushback. “It’s not a popularity contest. The topic-- it’s based on the science,” said South Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle.

The Essex mandate includes all public places with several exemptions for children under two, those with disabilities, workplaces in which they make work unsafe, and while eating in dining establishments. “I think it’s unfortunate we got put into this situation, but I think I’ve got to support it,” Watts said.

Other areas to approve mask mandates last week included Burlington, Warren, and Brattleboro.

Williston is taking up the idea Tuesday night.

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