Burlington, Brattleboro swift to impose municipal mask mandate

Brattleboro and Burlington – hometowns of Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint (at podium at left) and House Speaker Jill Krowinski – have taken swift action to impose municipal mask ordinances. Page photo

by Guy Page

Brattleboro passed a municipal mask mandate ordinance last night, and Burlington is poised to do so Wednesday, Dec. 1. The hometowns of Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint (D-Windham) and House Speaker Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) are the first municipalities to act on the Municipal Mask Mandate bill approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Scott this week.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said yesterday he will bring forward a mask ordinance that would require facial coverings in indoor public settings, except for situations where all employees and customers are verified to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The ordinance will be before the City Council for approval at a special meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 1.  It will not need voter approval.

The Brattleboro ordinance was prepared for last night’s selectboard meeting in anticipation of the Municipal Mask Mandate bill passing in Special Session of the Vermont Legislature, according to a letter from town official Peter Elwell. The ordinance states:

Requirement to Wear Face Covering. All establishments located in the Town of Brattleboro that invite the public into their premises for the purpose of receiving services, purchasing products, or otherwise transacting business, shall require both staff and customers (or visitors) to wear cloth face coverings or face shields over their nose and mouth while inside the establishment. Exceptions. Cloth face coverings are not required on young children under age 5 and should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”

The ordinance was approved last night with only one selectboard member voting no, according to VT Digger. “I am pro-vaccination and masking, but I’m anti-this mandate,” Wessel reportedly said. “I’m feeling we will separate people into camps and lose a community push toward getting out of this pandemic.”

The Burlington mayor’s proposed mask mandate would: 

·         Exempt all businesses and public institutions that affirmatively verify the vaccination of all patrons and require employees to be vaccinated or take regular COVID-19 tests.  

·         Exempt vaccinated workers who do not interact with members of the public. 

·         Exempt places of worship and schools within the Burlington School District (which follow guidance from the Vermont Agency of Education). 

·         Include all public transportation including buses, trains, taxis, and ride shares.  

·         Be reconsidered every 30 days for the following 30-day period and could be suspended if the risk of COVID-19 transmission in Chittenden County has dropped to a “moderate” level as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

·         Sunset no later than 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, 2022, consistent with State Act. 1.  

State law doesn’t include “decline to wear a mask or cloth face covering” option – As introduced by Gov. Phil Scott, the draft of the Municipal Mask Mandate bill included an ‘out’ for people declining to wear a mask: “A person who declines to wear a mask or cloth face covering because of a medical or developmental issue, or difficulty breathing, shall not be required to produce documentation, or other evidence, verifying the condition.”

This phrase was stricken from the bill by the Legislature. The final version of the entire bill appears below:


An act relating to temporary municipal rules in response to COVID-19
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

(a) As used in this section, “municipality” means a city, town, or incorporated village.
(b) For the purpose of COVID-19 prevention and mitigation, the legislative body of a municipality shall have the authority to adopt a temporary rule requiring individuals to wear face coverings while indoors at locations that are open to the public. A rule adopted pursuant to this section shall not apply to school buildings or school property, which shall remain under the authority of the school board.
(c)(1) The legislative body of a municipality shall adopt a rule authorized by this section at a regular or special meeting of the legislative body warned for that purpose.
(2) Notwithstanding 24 V.S.A. §§ 1972 and 1973 or any municipal charter provision to the contrary, a rule adopted pursuant to this section shall take effect upon adoption and shall not be subject to a petition for permissive referendum. (d) A rule adopted pursuant to this section shall remain in effect for not more than 45 days following its initial adoption. The legislative body of a municipality that adopted a rule pursuant to this section shall meet during the period in which the initial rule is in effect and vote either to rescind the rule or to extend the rule for an additional 30 days. Thereafter, the legislative body
shall meet at a minimum once every 30 days to reconsider the rule, at which meeting the legislative body shall vote either to rescind the rule or to extend the rule for an additional 30-day period.
(e) The authority granted by this section shall expire on April 30, 2022, and any municipal face covering rule in effect on that date shall be repealed.

This act shall take effect on passage.

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12 replies »

  1. Since all masks aside from perhaps the N95, which is in short supply, are proven absolutely useless against airborne aerosol and/or bacteria, this is nothing more than an authoritative power-trip on the part of the Dem’s…No science here what so ever…Opposite!…Of course, this was never about science….Keep voting Democrat Vermont…Idiocy on full display!

  2. From January 2020 until today, no politician nor bureaucrat has yet produced acceptable evidence of the efficacy of masking. No smoking gun, showing masks work. Yes, there are studies both affirming and denying benefit. The CDC primarily thru anthony fauci continue to promote masking as a bona-fide solution, referring to “studies”. That the CDC funded with our tax dollars. To obtain the result the CDC desired.
    We’ve all seen the news video from 2020 with this same high priest of Covid denying the efficacy of masks. Vermont now will have 250 groups of pseudo-experts that will need to decide their town’s fate. This will undoubtedly result in a hodge-podge of masking rules directly correlating to the groups majority political affiliation. So too, will the legislature divide in January when it reconvenes- wasting time and dollars arguing about information blovated by an old man that is egotistical and financially motivated to champion for his Pharmaceutical friends.
    For those businesses that are to be financially affected by these rules, I hope that they can withstand the burden placed on them by fearful politicians. For those individuals that stand up and refuse to buckle to the politicians hubris, a tip of the hat to you. And to those that decided enough is enough and left Vermont, you may be smarter than the rest of us.

  3. The way the regulation in Brattleboro was written doesn’t allow you to remove the mask in order to eat and drink. This is another example of liberals writing feel good rules without thinking of the consequences. Vote for Democrats and this is what you get.

  4. I predict this will have zero impact on cases, just as there is no data showing masks lowered cases the first time around–just some slanted, shoddy “studies” and relentless media cheerleading.

    As for “except for situations where all employees and customers are verified to be vaccinated against COVID-19”: Does that mean businesses now have permission to guard their doors against the unvaccinated? Sounds like a first step toward vax passports to me.

  5. …as if I needed yet another reason to never visit the “Queen City or or patronize the businesses there…

  6. Wait a Minute Here! It states in: “2. (d) . . . shall not be subject to a petition for permissive referendum.”

    This means that the We The People are denied to Petition the Vermont government for this abuse of power by the House and Senate. We The People are being denied our Right of Petition.

    We The People Do Not Consent to Mob Rule!

    Vermont Constitution:

    “Article 20. [Right to assemble, instruct and petition]

    That the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good–to instruct their Representatives–and to apply to the Legislature for redress of grievances, by address, petition or remonstrance.”

    Vermont Law:

    “Title 24 : Municipal And County Government

    Chapter 059 : Adoption And Enforcement Of Ordinances And Rules

    (Cite as: 24 V.S.A. § 1973)

    § 1973. Permissive referendum

    (a) An ordinance or rule adopted by a municipality may be disapproved by a vote of a majority of the qualified voters of the municipality voting on the question at an annual or special meeting duly warned for the purpose, pursuant to a petition signed and submitted in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.

    (b) A petition for a vote on the question of disapproving an ordinance or rule shall be signed by not less than five per cent of the qualified voters of the municipality, and presented to the legislative body or the clerk of the municipality within 44 days following the date of adoption of the ordinance or rule by the legislative body.

    (c) When a petition is submitted in accordance with subsection (b) of this section, the legislative body shall call a special meeting within 60 days from the date of receipt of the petition, or include an article in the warning for the next annual meeting of the municipality if the annual meeting falls within the 60-day period, to determine whether the voters will disapprove the ordinance or rule.

    (d) Not less than two copies of the ordinance or rule shall be posted at each polling place during the hours of voting, and copies thereof made available to voters at the polls on request. It shall be sufficient to refer to the ordinance or rule in the warning by title.

    (e) If a petition for an annual or a special meeting is duly submitted in accordance with this section, to determine whether an ordinance or rule shall be disapproved by the voters of the municipality, the ordinance or rule shall take effect on the conclusion of the meeting, or at such later date as is specified in the ordinance or rule, unless a majority of the qualified voters voting on the question at the meeting vote to disapprove the ordinance or rule in which event it shall not take effect. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. March 2, 1970; amended 1971, No. 14, § 12, eff. March 11, 1971.)”

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