Gov. Scott mandates public mask-wearing

A mother helps her daughter put on a face mask. Photo by August de Richelieu.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Citing the surge of Covid-19 cases around the country, Gov. Phil Scott on Friday, July 24, mandated that everyone in a public place in which physical distancing is not possible must wear a mask or cloth face covering. The order takes effect on Saturday, Aug. 1.

State officials emphasized that Vermont is still doing well as far as new cases, those displaying symptoms and hospitalizations.  And there is no one in intensive care units being treated for Covid-19. There were also 52 new cases reported this week; 55 new cases last week.

Scott credited the state’s ‘”strong and nimble testing and tracing program.  … You stayed home when required, limited travel … kept your distance … and worn masks when required. We’ve learned of many reports of noncompliance but still with low numbers.” He added that the he has waited to implement a mask requirement and instead “used education which has been the right thing to do to date.”

But, Scott said, “We all want to keep moving forward. No one wants to retreat. The outbreaks across the nation may be spreading … they are inching northeast and closer and closer to  … our borders. We are still in very good shape.” But he added that he would rather institute it now, “rather than waiting till it is too late … and having to roll things back.”

Scott added that masks do not have to be worn when you are eating or drinking, during strenuous activity or if you are a young child under the age of 2. Restaurants, he said, can refuse to serve customers who don’t wear masks. He added that those people with health concerns — such as asthma or with claustrophobia — are not required to wear a mask and won’t need documentation to prove it.

You can read the full executive order by clicking here.

He asked that those concerned about the person with the reason for not wearing a mask give the benefit of the doubt. “Attacking, shaming and judging isn’t going to help,”  he said, urging Vermonters to “not make the news with screaming matches captured on video.”

“Mandating masks doesn’t make it so, ” he said. But he urged everyone — including visitors — to wear masks “not because it’s mandated but because it’s the right thing to do.” “Compliance is difficult,” said Scott, “enforcement is more difficult.”

He also cited the Centers for Disease Control, which has said that the at-times deadly virus could be controlled in the surging Sunbelt states with four to six weeks of mask wearing.

“We want people do do the right thing,” said Scott.

 

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. I think he should have done this WEEKS ago !!!!