WATERVILLE — A sign at Yardgoods Center in The Concourse in downtown Waterville sets forth the new rules, which rely largely on the honor system.

The sign reads: “All Yardgoods employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19. We hope you have been! If you have not been, please wear a mask.”

“We don’t want to get people mad,” said store clerk Deb Titus, 68. “But we’d like them to wear a mask if they’re not vaccinated.”

A sign provides masking information Monday at Yardgoods Center in downtown Waterville. The store offers a variety of merchandise, including fabric, yarn and craft items. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Titus spoke Monday, as masks were no longer mandated in most public settings statewide. Save for the U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s mandate for all forms of public transportation, including planes, buses and trains, protective masks are no longer required at most public places in Maine and many other states.

The end of the statewide mask mandate came as the Maine CDC reported 92 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the first time the state had reported fewer than 100 new daily cases since mid-February. Although weekend numbers tend to be less than those reported on weekdays, the trend in new cases is declining.

Big-box stores, including Walmart and Target, have dropped mask requirements nationwide, while the Hannaford and Shaw’s supermarket chains have dropped their masks rules for fully vaccinated customers.

Businesses can make their own rules, including requiring masks or demanding proof of vaccination to avoid having to wear face protection, according to the state.

On Monday, Waterville residents Raymond LaPointe and Jon Duffy stood unmasked as they watched demolition work being done on Main Street. LaPointe, 61, said he spends most weekdays with one eye glued to his camcorder as he documents the transition from the Sterns building to the Paul J. Schupf Art Center.

LaPointe said while he and Duffy were not masked as they stood outdoors, they planned to continue wearing masks when inside stores. They added they felt some unease shedding their masks.

Raymond LaPointe, left, and Jon Duffy discuss the state’s dropping its mask mandate as they stand Monday on Main Street in downtown Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

“It’s to be on the safe side,” LaPointe said. “You never know when someone has the COVID thing.”

Duffy, 39, said he would not judge people who wear or do not wear masks.

“It depends how you feel,” he said.

Just up the street, employee Brandon Glidden paced the storefront of the new Viva Unlimited LLC, an urban retail clothing store on the corner of Main and Temple streets.

Glidden, 27, said his decision whether to wear a mask is influenced by customers. If a customer comes in with a mask, the Waterville resident slips his on. He then strikes up a conversation, asking the customer about his or her comfort level.

Glidden said he exercised Monday morning at Planet Fitness, where no one was wearing a mask.

Brandon Glidden, who works at Viva Unlimited LLC, a clothing store in downtown Waterville, shares his thoughts Monday on the state’s dropping its mask mandate. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

“I’m not trying to push ‘no masks,’ but I want to see how comfortable they are,” he said. “It’s a little bit like getting everything back to normal.”

Ana Roman, a Waterville resident who works as a housekeeper at a local nursing home, was wearing a mask Monday as she headed into Selah Tea Café on Main Street.

“I prefer to be masked up,” said Roman, 52.

Roman said masks remain required of all employees at the nursing home where she works. She was a bit wary, therefore, to be entering a business where employees and customers were not wearing masks. She said her concern was that people who are not vaccinated might not wear masks, despite the state’s recommendation they do so.

Ana Roman, who works as a housekeeper at a local nursing home, walks Monday in downtown Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

“Hopefully, they’re going to do what’s right,” Roman said.

Back at Yardgoods Center, which sells fabric, thread, elastic, yarn and craft supplies, the mask requirement driven by the coronavirus pandemic has had a positive influence on business. Over the past 15 months, customers have flocked to the store for mask-making materials, knitting supplies and sewing machine repairs.

On Monday, one of those customers, Lisa Matheson, was handling a colorful bag she had crocheted as she left the store and headed into The Concourse.

“I should’ve put my mask on,” Matheson said to Titus.

“You don’t have to,” Titus said. “That’s the point.”

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