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Portland to require public-facing workers to wear face coverings

Portland City Council passes an amendment to the city's stay-at-home order requiring public-facing workers to wear face coverings. It goes into effect on April 30th.

PORTLAND, Maine — At a city council meeting on Monday, April 27, Portland City Council voted to extend the city's stay-at-home order during the coronavirus another two weeks to Monday, May 18. 

During the same meeting, the city council voted passed a few amendments to the city's stay-at-home order. One such amendment will require all public-facing workers to wear some kind of face-covering starting Thursday, April 30. 

The amendment was brought forward by Portland City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau. 

"Essentially, the principle here is that when we all go into a store, my mask is protecting you and your mask is protecting me. As I've tried to say all along is that this is a reasonable proposal that brings people together to try to keep the spread from continuing," Thibodeau told NEWS CENTER Maine. 

Thibodeau believes such actions will shape the city's "new normal," as a way to keep people safe while more businesses begin to open back up in the coming weeks. 

He emphasizes that everyone should strive to wear masks in public spaces where social distancing is challenging, not just workers.

"We want people to understand that in countries and places where people are starting to debate re-opening, face masks have become part of their lives," says Thibodeau. "And that doesn't just mean folks who are cutting folks' hair, but also the folks sitting in the chair, because we've got to try to protect one another." 

The language in the amendment specifically references "face coverings" rather than masks, because masks have become increasingly difficult for the public to access.

"We don't want people wearing facemasks, especially not N95s. We want to leave those for people on the front lines, like our healthcare workers," Thibodeau told NEWS CENTER Maine. 

Click here to read the CDC's guidelines on facemasks. 

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The full amendment reads as follows: 

All businesses providing COVID-19 Essential Services are strongly encouraged to remain open. To the greatest extent feasible, COVID-19 Essential Services shall comply with social distancing protocols by maintaining at least six (6) feet of physical distance from other people, including other employees and members of the public, including, but not limited to, when any customers are standing in line, and allow and encourage remote working where practical.

Any employee of (i) an Essential Service (Section 8 of this Order) or (ii) non-essential service (Section 7 of this Order) that maintains curbside pickup, shipping or delivery, shall be required to wear a mask or similar cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth of that employee while in the workplace, except to the extent that said employee is using break time to eat or drink. Notwithstanding the foregoing, an employee who does not interact with the public or can maintain a separation of at least six (6) feet from another employee or person, shall not be required to wear a face covering or mask.  The requirement described herein shall go into effect on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Nothing contained herein shall require use of a face covering by anyone for whom doing so would be contrary to the health or safety of that employee because of a medical condition.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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