Chester board OKs ‘statement’ encouraging individual Covid mitigation measures

By Shawn Cunningham
© Telegraph Publishing LLC

While a number of area towns including Cavendish, Ludlow and Windham have instituted mask mandates for public buildings, the Chester board issued a statement that while there is increasing transmission of Covid in Vermont and New Hampshire, “The Town of Chester is not supportive of implementing a mask mandate at this time.”

Board members discuss the contents of the statement Image courtesy of SAPA TV

Instead, the board encouraged both residents and visitors to “renew their efforts to control the spread of COVID19 by employing to the best extent possible all of the known mitigation strategies set forth by the CDC and the Vermont Department of Health.

In addition to listing those strategies — which includes wearing a mask when indoors in “a congregate setting” — the statement encourages Chester businesses to formulate disease mitigation strategies and mask policies appropriate for their situations. It also suggests posting the board’s statement, which you can find here.

The question of a mask mandate had been floated by a number of local business owners but opposed by other business owners. The board held a meeting on Dec. 15 at which it heard from residents on both sides of the issue and some who fell in between.

Board members Jeff Holden and Lee Gustafson were generally opposed to a mandate or even a resolution but felt they could get behind a recommendation depending on how it was worded. And while member Heather Chase spoke energetically in favor of a mandate from her position as a nurse and public health professional, members Arne Jonynas and Leigh Dakin were on the fence and would take all of the public comment into consideration in moving forward.

At the next meeting, talk of Springfield’s Covid statement sent the discussion sideways and no agreement could be reached. Finally, the board decided to have Town Manager Julie Hance write a statement encouraging individuals and businesses to be more vigilant in their Covid mitigation but falling short of a mandate for the board to approve.

Last Wednesday, the board – after brief discussion – approved the statement.


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