Brunswick became the first municipality in Maine to require employees of businesses that cater to the public, such as banks, grocery stores, convenience stores and others that serve the public face-to-face indoors, to wear masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That order goes into effect Friday morning.

According to the Times Record, Walmart and Shaw’s recently started requiring its employees to wear masks.

While no other Maine city or town has enacted such a policy, a few are considering it.

“We have had a handful of legal inquiries from members about this, requiring employees to wear masks. Not too many,” said Eric Conrad, director of Communications and Educational Services for the Maine Municipal Association.

Most of the cities and towns in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties, if not all, including Auburn, Lewiston, Rumford and Farmington, are not considering such an order at this time.

‘We have no plans at this time to make mandatory face-mask-wearing by public-facing employees or the public,” said Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque. “We do continue to encourage individuals to take appropriate measures to include social distancing, staying home when ill and making expedient trips to get basic supplies.”

Lewiston also has not put in place any policy that goes beyond the state’s response thus far to the coronavirus. As Lewiston City Manager Ed Barrett said, the city never issued a stay-at-home order. Instead Mayor Mark Cayer had urged Gov. Janet Mills to do so at the state level.

“There has not been such a requirement (on masks) discussed here,” Barrett said. “To the best of my knowledge, the question has not been raised. Generally, we have supported statewide approaches to addressing the pandemic as the best way to go.”

In Farmington, Town Manager Richard Davis said his town is also following the governor’s lead.

“It’s certainly a very good idea,” Davis said. “But we’re relying on the governor, who is from Farmington, with her executive orders.”

Lani Bisson, the executive assistant to the town manager in Rumford, said there were no plans to implement a mandatory mask order in her town.

“Not at this time,” she said. “It should be up to the businesses if they want to require masks for their employees.”

In Kennebec County, Augusta is not considering a mask order. Mayor David Rollins said his city is following “state requirements.”

One city considering such a measure is Portland, according to City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, who is offering an emergency order at Monday’s council meeting.

“This amendment ensures that our front-line workers have the personal protective gear they need to be safe on the job,” Thibodeau said. “If I am not wearing my mask, I put your health in jeopardy, just as if you are not wearing your mask, you put my health in jeopardy. We must all do our part to keep our front-line workers safe by staying home and by wearing face coverings at the grocery store, at the convenience store, or other public spaces. This appears to be our new normal.”

Thibodeau said the amendment to the city’s emergency proclamation only solves half the problem since the public is not required to also wear masks. Brunswick voted against requiring the public to wear mask in their shops and stores. While not part of the amendment, Thibodeau expects the topic of the public also wearing masks to be part of the discussion.

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