How Portland’s New Indoor Mask Mandate Will Work

An indoor mask mandate for public places in Portland takes effect Wednesday following unanimous city council approval Monday night. The warrant comes as Maine continues to see high COVID-19 workloads and the state prepares for the rise of the omicron variant.

What does the prescription say?

The mask ordinance requires all people entering public buildings in the city to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths. A public building is a building or part of a building that is regularly accessible to the general public. This does not include private residences or residential units; public schools, which come under the jurisdiction of the school board and which already require masks inside and on school buses; and churches and other places of worship.

Other exceptions are office spaces where occupants are separated from the general public and parts of theaters, gymnasiums and arenas where participants have all been vaccinated and there is either a space, physical barrier or ventilation. separating from the general public.

Face coverings should also be worn when using or operating public transport, including buses, trains, taxis, carpools, rental vehicles, and other transportation services.

Who should wear a mask?

The mandate applies to anyone 2 years of age and older, although there are exceptions for people with health problems complicated or irritated by a face covering and anyone who has difficulty breathing or who is disabled. A person alone in a public building is also not required to wear a mask.

Is there an exception in companies that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes. Companies that verify vaccination and limit admission to those who have presented proof of vaccination do not have to require masks inside.

Who is considered vaccinated?

The city uses the definition of fully immunized from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency currently considers people to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Can companies require both masks and vaccines?

Yes, companies can require both. The order focuses on masks, but the city’s director of health and social services said on Monday that a multi-pronged approach involving both masks and vaccinations is ideal. “It is important to remember that no action will mitigate COVID-19 and that all strategies must be used together if we are to see a successful drop in numbers,” HHS director Kristen Dow told the board. .

Should companies publicize the mask’s mandate?

Yes. The ordinance states that businesses and other public buildings that fall under the mandate must post signs, at their entrances and other appropriate places such as back doors or cash registers, indicating that persons entering are required to carry face coverings by order of the municipal council. . This must be done before January 10th.

Should I wear a mask at the gym? And at the table in a restaurant?

The mandate applies to gymnasiums, although they can take advantage of the vaccine exception. Additionally, if a gymnasium has a fully immunized area separate from the general public, masks should not be worn in that area.

The ordinance also states that people can temporarily remove their masks “to participate in the primary purpose of the business, such as eating or drinking” at a restaurant. However, such removal should take place in an isolated location, such as a table or booth, and people should put on their masks as soon as this activity is over or if they move away from their isolated location.

Does the mandate apply to non-public spaces attached to public spaces, such as the garage of a mechanical workshop with a waiting area for customers or a grocery store?

The definition of “public building” in the ordinance refers to “any building or part of a building in the City of Portland that is regularly accessible to the general public.” In these examples, if the garage area of ​​the mechanical workshop is not regularly accessible to the public, then that part of the building or establishment would not constitute a “public building” subject to the mask requirement, although the client area is. The same would apply to the warehouse of the grocery store or other work areas where the public is not present.

Should musicians and actors be masked in places of entertainment?

It depends. If all performers or actors are vaccinated and separated from the audience by a space, physical barrier or ventilation, they will not need to be masked. Theaters and performance venues, like other public buildings, can also avoid having everyone wear masks by requiring proof of vaccination for all who enter.

How will the warrant be executed?

Businesses are the “first line of defense” in enforcing the warrant, the city said in a press release Tuesday, although the city also has a local health worker who has been appointed as a police officer to do so. apply the order. “This person will start with education to achieve compliance in response to any complaints,” the city said. The health worker will also have the ability to issue notices of violation, which may include subpoenas to appear in court.

What is the penalty for a violation and for repeated violations?

Violation of the ordinance is a civil offense punishable by a penalty as set out in article 1-15 of the City Ordinance Code. The code states that violating any municipal ordinance is punishable by a fine of $ 100 to $ 500 per violation. However, the city will focus primarily on education and voluntary compliance, a spokesperson said.

“Ideally, businesses and individuals will comply voluntarily and the need to issue tickets and impose fines will be limited,” city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said in an email.

How do I report a non-compliant business or individual?

People can submit compliance complaints through the SeeClickFix mobile or web app, or by sending an email to [email protected]

Is the city doing something to provide masks to businesses?

Yes. City staff are ordering surgical masks and window decals that will soon be available to businesses in need. The city does not yet have a delivery date for the masks, but will contact the companies as soon as more details become available, Grondin said.

The city is also updating its ‘masks required’ posters and window decal signage, and businesses will be able to download digital versions from the website and / or pick up window decals next week.

How long will the mandate last?

The board will review the order every 30 days and vote to cancel or extend the mask’s term for an additional 30 days. The city manager also has the option of issuing an executive order suspending the warrant if the seven-day average of new cases for Cumberland County falls to the US CDC’s “moderate” transmission level for a period of 10 consecutive days.

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