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Sanford City Council votes 7-0 to adopt community-wide mask ordinance

Starting Friday, Sanford PD will enforce the ordinance, which carries a minimum fine of $100 for anyone who fails to comply. First-time offenders will get a warning.

SANFORD, Maine — The Sanford City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance Thursday night that requires people to wear face coverings in all public places where social distancing is not possible.

This includes stores, restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, and lodging, regardless of their size.

COVID-19 has caused four outbreaks in Sanford recently, a worrisome sign of community spread, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Sanford Police Department will enforce the ordinance, which carries a minimum fine of $100 for anyone who fails to comply. First-time offenders will receive a warning before a fine can be levied. The ordinance takes effect Friday will remain in place for 90 days.

City Councilor Lucas Lanigan said fining someone will be the last resort.

"There are steps before that. I don't think we need to get to that and if they are being that defiant, they are really just putting the community in danger and shame on them," said Lanigan.

City Manager Steven Buck, who crafted the ordinance with help from the city attorney, told councilors that Sanford’s ordinance strengthens Gov. Janet Mills’ executive order, dated July 8, by requiring all businesses in the city to post signs letting customers know they must wear a cloth face covering over their mouth and nose in order to gain entrance. It also carries an enforcement provision that could result in fines and possible closure for businesses that fail to comply.

Mills' executive order states that retail stores with over 50,000 square feet of shopping space, eating establishments, bars, tasting rooms, and lodging must require face coverings before allowing entry. The state measure gave businesses the power to deny entry or service. 

Councilor Lanigan said many of Sanford's businesses are smaller than that.

Sanford’s ordinance is different in that will ask that all businesses – from a small convenience store, or coffee shop to a large retailer – to enforce a face mask requirement.