Portland, Maine City Council Unanimously Voted to Enact Indoor Mask Mandate
Just a few days into 2022 and it's starting to feel like 2020 because masks are returning to the city of Portland, Maine in full force.
Monday night, Portland City Council met, and it was unanimously decided that beginning on Wednesday, January 5th, everyone over the age of two must wear a mask while in public places in Portland. Businesses will need "masks required" signage by Monday, January 10th.
This does not apply, however, to businesses that require proof of vaccination.
According to Portland Press Herald, Cumberland County has the highest vaccination rate in Maine.
Masks and Omicron
While the City of Portland gives no restrictions on the type of mask worn, experts are saying that cloth masks are essentially useless against Omicron, according to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen described cloth masks as, "little more than facial decorations," and instead recommends disposable masks, or KN95 or N95 masks in crowded areas.
State of Emergency
In addition to the mask mandate, Portland City Council voted to end the local state of emergency on January 13, 2022. This will end the increased minimum wage of 1.5 times the regular minimum wage of $13 an hour for hourly workers to $19.50 an hour or $6.50 per hour or $9.75 for tipped workers.
While the mask mandate was unanimous, Councilor Victoria Pelletier was the only one who voted against ending the state of emergency according to News Center Maine.
COVID in Maine
As of this past Sunday, there were 340 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 with 119 in critical care and 57 on ventilators. These numbers are suspected to be underreported according to Portland Press Herald.
According to WMTW, the new mask mandate is structured after the mandate in Burlington, Vermont. Things could shift to a policy like in Boston, Massachusetts as the council is expected to hear from local restaurant owners about imposing a vaccine mandate for those entering public businesses.
The city will reevaluate the mandate every 30 days.