Will Mask Mandates Return to the Seacoast?
The CDC's recommendation for all people - regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status - to wear masks in public places without a mandate from some level of government could cause more confusion for businesses.
CDC officials now states that everyone should wear a mask indoors in public if they are in "an area of substantial or high transmission."
As of Wednesday night, the entire Seacoast was at a moderate level after York County's transmission level dropped on the CDC's map.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said he will not implement a mask mandate again because there is no state of emergency, while Maine Gov. Janet Mills and the state CDC only recommend following the new federal guidelines.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration is still studying the new guidance.
Ben VanCamp, Chief Collaborator & President of the Chamber Collaborative of Portsmouth, told Seacoast Current that he's not sensing a great desire for a return to mask mandates. But the "recommendations" aren't doing businesses much good either.
"It really does put the business owner in an awkward position to try and enforce these policies that don't really have any teeth on a local level," VanCamp said.
VanCamp said adding to the awkwardness is the fact that many of the employees who would be enforce mask policies are teens.
"It's a very emotionally charged thing for a lot of the people who are coming in. I think business owners want to keep their staff safe, they want to stay open for business and they'll do what they have to do, but I don't think anyone's anxious to return to a mask mandate."
A Return to Local Mask Mandates
Many New Hampshire municipalities including Exeter, Durham, Newmarket and Portsmouth implemented their own mask mandates with fines for violations. Are they considering bringing them back even if the state does not?
Nothing is on the table for the city of Portsmouth at this point, according to city spokeswoman Stephanie Seacord.
"That would be something the city council would decide. Right now we're watching the CDC and New Hampshire Division of Health and Human Services. NH DHHS has not put out any update on their guidance," Seacord told Seacoast Current.
Seacord said any ordinance would be required to have three readings before a vote was taken.
The city council is meeting on Aug. 2. No agenda had been put out as of Thursday morning.