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Vermont governor signs bill allowing local mask mandates

  • FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2019, file photo, Republican Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a news conference in Essex Junction, Vt. Scott is running for reelection as governor of Vermont. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File) Wilson Ring

Associated Press
Published: 11/24/2021 5:16:04 PM

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed into law Tuesday a bill that will allow the state’s municipalities to adopt temporary indoor mask mandates.

Scott’s signature on the new law came a day after the Vermont Legislature held a special session in which the new law that allows a municipality to impose their own mask mandate was introduced and approved.

Scott said he called the special session at the request of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns as a compromise after some lawmakers urged him to re-impose a statewide mask mandate.

“As you’ve heard me say repeatedly, masking when inside in public spaces is a good idea right now, because masks work, but at this point in the pandemic mandates won’t,” Scott said. “And I think they’ll be divisive and counter productive.”

Within hours of the new law taking effect, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said he would propose requiring facial coverings in indoor public settings except for situations where all employees and customers in city businesses are verified to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The ordinance will go before the Burlington City Council on Dec. 1.

In a statement, Weinberger, a Democrat, said the city is in a “confusing and uncertain moment” in which most Vermonters are vaccinated, but the state has seen record-setting case numbers.

“In drafting this new mask mandate the city team has sought to strike a balance with a structure that both protects public health and supports the local businesses we are asking to partner with us on the frontline of our community pandemic response,” Weinberger said.

Under the terms of the new law, Vermont’s local legislative bodies can decide whether to have a mask mandate. Schools would not be included.

Municipalities that adopt mask mandates must vote every 30 days whether to keep the mandates in effect.

The law will expire on April 30, 2022.

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