Plainfield board passes public mask mandate

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2020 9:44:01 PM
Modified: 8/26/2020 9:44:14 PM

PLAINFIELD — The town Selectboard voted, 3-0, Wednesday evening to require that masks be worn in public, citing the benefits to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Selectboard member Eric Brann, a former New Hampshire State Police trooper, said he was “really conflicted” about the ordinance because of the arguments he’s heard from people opposed to a mandate, but that he would support it to help businesses get customers to comply, noting that he had contracted two infectious diseases during his 29-year law enforcement career.

“I’m doing it, mostly for our businesses, to prepare us and to say we are doing what we can to (stop) the spread, and to prepare us for the influx in the future,” Brann said.

The meeting, which followed a two-hour hearing last week, came just days after Kimball Union Academy in Meriden said it has one COVID-19 case in quarantine as students return to campus for classes that begin on Friday.

Selectboard member Ron Eberhardt said there are clear public health benefits to wearing masks.

“While there are arguments against mask wearing, there are no good health or scientific arguments against mask wearing,” Eberhardt said. “I think we need to (adopt this) for one another in this community.”

The ordinance, which took effect upon passage, requires face coverings in buildings open to the public and in stores and restaurants, though exceptions are made while seated at a table and eating. Masks are “strongly encouraged” but not required for people who are exercising or on trails or sidewalks, unless they are in groups of more than 15. Children ages 6 and up also must wear masks, though there are exceptions for anyone, including adults, who can show that a medical provider said it could pose a health risk.

A first offense, to be enforced by Plainfield police or the health officer, carries a warning, followed by a fine of $50 for a second infraction, then $100 for a third and subsequent offense.

Selectboard Chairman Rob Taylor, who works for the town of Enfield, said there had been no fines levied there in the three weeks since that town passed a similar ordinance.

“The goal here is compliance,” Taylor said.

Lebanon and Hanover also require masks in public, and there is a statewide mandate in Vermont.

News staff writer John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@ or 603-727-3217.

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