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Woodstock mandates masks in public places, businesses

  • At the Woodstock Inn & Resort, Crys Szekely, the special events manager, and Anton Vicar, the restaurant director, rearrange tables in the Red Rooster Restaurant at the inn on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The resort reopened for guests on July 1, since shutting down due to the pandemic. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

  • Amy Kaminski, left, and Makenna Hodgdon, both servers at the Woodstock Inn & Resort, use hand sanitizer while organizing wine glasses at the inn on Wednesday, July, 1, 2020, in Woodstock, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2020 9:33:05 PM
Modified: 7/8/2020 9:39:45 PM

WOODSTOCK — As of Thursday, visitors to Woodstock are required to wear face coverings in public and local businesses after officials enacted new rules intended to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Village Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday morning to adopt the ordinance mandating the use of face coverings or face shields while on municipal property, sidewalks and parks, and inside businesses.

The rules exempt people seated in restaurants, those engaged in outdoor exercise and children younger than 2 years old.

Town employees performing “strenuous physical activity,” such as construction work, also aren’t required to wear face masks on the job.

People without a mask can be approached by police, health inspectors and village parking attendants who are instructed to educate visitors and offer them a free mask. The ordinance doesn’t include penalties for those who refuse the offer.

The trustees were then followed by the Woodstock Selectboard, which voted unanimously at noon to institute similar regulations throughout the rest of town.

The need for a mask mandate comes as summer brings an influx of travel to the village, a draw for tourists in the Route 4 corridor.

While many out-of-state visitors wear masks and take social-distancing precautions, some aren’t as diligent, said Jeffrey Kahn, chairman of the Village Trustees.

“I’ve noticed quite a few mostly out-of-state visitors not wearing masks,” Kahn, who owns the gift shop Unicorn, said in a phone interview.

The shop requires people who enter to wear masks and use hand sanitizer at the door “but we notice quite a few people on sidewalks often in close contact with others not wearing masks,” he said.

“By and large, we’re doing this for the protection of everybody, visitors as well as the residents,” Kahn added.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their households to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The masks, they say, provide a barrier that helps prevent droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing it coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice.

State health officials in both Vermont and New Hampshire also have recommended that people wear masks when leaving the house, although neither has mandated it.

However, some municipalities in the Twin States have taken action. In Vermont, Burlington, South Burlington and Montpelier have mandated masks in certain instances. The city of Nashua, N.H., has also instituted a mask requirement.

Many Woodstock businesses welcomed the new regulations, with owners saying that many shops and establishments already have rules requiring masks be worn.

“I think that what people need to realize is that this is going to be for a short period of time in the big scheme in our lives and that Vermont’s numbers have been as good as they are because we’re all very careful,” said Jireh Billings, the co-owner of F.H. Gillingham & Sons, which reopens next week.

Billings, who has asthma, said he personally hates wearing a mask but considers it important to prevent the spread of the virus and keep business open.

“I would do whatever I could to protect everybody that works here,” he said.

The village can become “congested” during the summer months, meaning people likely should be wearing masks while visiting, said Courtney Lowe, vice president of marketing and business development at The Woodstock Inn & Resort.

The inn reopened last week and requires its guests to wear masks indoors and consider distancing when mulling whether to wear one outdoors.

“Our guests are very respectful. We get a lot of comments thanking us for asking their fellow guests to do the same,” Lowe said. “The feedback’s been positive so far.”

Kristian Preylowski, co-owner of The Yankee Bookshop, said he keeps extra masks on hand for those who forget or children prone to losing theirs.

“Most people understand that if you’re going to walking into a store, masks are required,” he said. “In our store, everybody’s been fine and cooperative.”

“We all have to make small sacrifices for the greater good,” Preylowski added.

Tim Camerato can be reached at or 603-727-3223.

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