Masks are again optional in most indoor locations in the City of Portsmouth following a decrease in the number of positive cases and a decline in hospitalizations.

The decision by City Manager Karen Conrad takes effect immediately, ending the process for a mask mandate to be put in place by the city council. The council was preparing for a third reading of an ordinance at its next meeting on Feb. 22.

Masks are still required at the Portsmouth Public Library, and individual businesses still have the option to require a mask within their location. Conrad still strongly urges the use of masks.

"We do continue to urge that residents follow the guidance of the NH Department of Health and Human Services, and the CDC in implementing the layered 'package' of mitigation measures that are known to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19," Conrad said in a statement.

She also urged for the continued protection of children under the age of 5 and adults who are at high-risk.

Free N95 masks supplied by the federal government are now available at the following pharmacies:

  • CVS, 674 Islington St. at checkout, not pharmacy
  • Rite-Aid, 800 Islington St., at checkout, not pharmacy
  • Rite-Aid, 1303 Woodbury Ave., at pharmacy
  • Walmart, 2460 Lafayette Rd., at doors and Service Desk
Mask sign at a Portsmouth city facility
Mask sign at a Portsmouth city facility (City of Portsmouth)

Other Mask Mandates Still in Place

A mask mandate implemented by the Exeter Select Board on December 20 remains in place until at least March 12 but could be lifted early. Newburyport's mask mandate is in place until Feb. 28.

Amesbury mayor Kassandra Gove ended her mask mandate on Feb. 7.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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