Citing COVID-19 Spread, Dover Proposing New Mask Mandate
UPDATE (November 19, 3:25 p.m.): New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced a statewide mask mandate that takes effect on November 20.
The City of Dover is proposing a new mask mandate that would require persons to wear a mask both inside and outside when occupying public spaces, the city said in a release Monday.
The new ordinance will be introduced during Wednesday's City Council meeting and could go to a vote, which, if approved, would mean those who do not wear a face covering in certain public spaces could be subject to fines.
"With the onset of colder weather forcing persons to now congregate more indoors and with travel and widespread gatherings anticipated for the upcoming holiday season, health professionals, medical researchers and emergency officials have increasingly emphasized the need for requiring the wearing of face masks in order to slow the spread of the COVID virus and protect not only vulnerable populations but the general public, as well," Dover City Manager Michael Joyal said in a statement.
"There is urgency in adopting the requirements of this ordinance now given the United States generally, and New Hampshire specifically, have seen a dramatic increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections and exponential growth in recent days," Joyal said. "Recent COVID data monitored by federal, state and local authorities are trending rapidly upwards indicating that the extent of infections and community spread in our area has and is likely to continue to exceed that experienced earlier this year when the pandemic first began."
The proposed ordinance would require any person to wear a mask in any "indoor or outdoor space which is accessible to others or open to the public, in which a physical distancing of six (6) feet between people who are not members of the same household is not or cannot be maintained."
Face coverings would also be required for all those entering or exiting any businesses, and business owners would be obligated not to provide goods or services to persons not complying with the ordinance.
Exemptions would exist for children under 2 years old as well as those with medical issues and persons actively dining at a restaurant table, among others.
If approved, the ordinance would begin immediately and last a maximum of 60 days.