Mask mandate instituted in Essex

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ESSEX — The town of Essex selectboard voted unanimously on Monday to institute a face-covering mandate for the entire town, which includes the village of Essex Junction.

The board said they felt that an immediate response was necessary to protect the public now and during at least the next 45 days.

The Essex Police Department says they will be approaching violations of this rule as a chance to educate and gain voluntary compliance.

There will be no police enforcement, and no fines given.

Police say they will be passing out pamphlets to those who violate the rule.

The rule is based on the new temporary state law, Act 1, which relates to temporary municipal rules in response to Covid-19.

Act 1 allows selectboards to adopt a temporary rule that requires individuals within a town to wear face coverings while indoors at locations that are open to the public.

The rule passed by the Essex board went into effect immediately and covers all businesses, including houses of worship.

The rule does exempt the children under 2 years old, anyone with a disability who cannot wear a face covering or cannot safely wear a face covering for reasons related to the disability, a person for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the workplace risk assessment, and any person while eating or drinking inside any establishment that serves food or beverage.

Locations that are open to the public are required to prominently display a notice to this rule at their entrance.

The town did not impose a fine structure with its rule as the board said they wish for the community and those that patronize businesses to see this for the health and safety issue that it is, rather than a legal process.

The rule is in effect for 45 days and can be extended for 30-day increments until the state law’s effective date expires on April 30, 2022.

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