BELLOWS FALLS — There won’t be a mask mandate in the town of Rockingham or the village of Bellows Falls this holiday season.
The Rockingham Select Board and the Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees, which met jointly this week, rejected a suggestion for a mandate that was made by a village trustee.
Trustee Wade Masure said he felt the town and village should support local businesses that were asking people to mask up, and he said the town and village should set an example by requiring masks in the Town Hall.
“In Town Hall, masks should be worn,” Masure said, to show “we support the wearing of masks.”
Several Bellows Falls businesses require anyone entering their premises to wear masks, Masure pointed out.
“We should do something based on all the numbers,” Masure said, citing the record number of COVID-19 cases in the state, and record hospitalizations.
The new omicron variant is another unknown but potentially major threat.
Last week, the Vermont Legislature, meeting in special session, approved legislation giving local communities the power to enact local mask ordinances since Gov. Phil Scott had repeatedly rejected another state mask mandate. Scott and his administration emphasize other measures — including vaccination — as more effective.
Since the governor signed the legislation, several Vermont communities such as Brattleboro, Burlington and Warren (home to Sugarbush Ski Area) have enacted such a local mask ordinance.
Rockingham Select Board Chairman Peter Golec noted that recently there were three letters to the editor in the Reformer condemning the Brattleboro action.
To the editor: Brattleboro businesses and residents must be so proud. The Select Board becam…
To the editor: Not that many businesses in Brattleboro will care, but you will not have my m…
To the editor: People had better wake up and speak up or we will all be living in a country …
“Enforcement is another tricky issue,” Golec said.
During the meeting, the vast majority of the board members were all wearing masks, with the exception of Village President Deborah Wright, who was chairing the meeting, Peter Golec and municipal manager Scott Pickup.
“There is no statewide mandate. It’s up to the communities,” Pickup said. As far as the staff in the town offices, he said, people wearing or not wearing masks “is not an issue.”
Staff feel very comfortable working in the building, he said. During the height of the pandemic last year, the Town Hall was closed to the public and many employees worked from home.
While Masure gained the support of one Select Board member, the others were silent.
Wright, who herself is not a mandatory mask supporter in general, scanned the assembled board members, heard no further discussion or even a motion, and the matter never came up for a vote.
“There’s no energy to move forward on this item,” she said.