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Posted on: January 4, 2022

City Council Passes Mask Mandate for Indoor Public Places

COUNCIL NEWS

At the January 3, 2022 City Council meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to implement a mask mandate ordinance for the city of Portland. People (ages 2+) must wear masks when inside public places in Portland as of Wednesday, January 5. Businesses that require proof of vaccination of everyone on premises do not need to require masks be worn. Businesses must post "masks required" signs that are visible to the public as of January 10. The City Council will review this ordinance every 30 days to determine whether or not it stays in effect.  

City staff are in the process of ordering mask supplies and window decals that will be available soon for businesses that need them. As has happened in the past, the City will provide boxes of masks to help offset additional expenses for businesses. It is anticipated that businesses will be able to pick up supplies at City Hall via the Myrtle Street entrance and at the City’s public health offices at 39 Forest Avenue. Additional details will be released as soon as possible. 

In terms of enforcement of the mask mandate, businesses are the first line of defense in ensuring compliance as the ordinance requires people entering business establishments to wear a mask and contains a requirement that businesses display “masks required” signs by January 10, 2022. People can submit compliance complaints via the SeeClickFix mobile or web app or send an email to info@portlandmaine.gov.

The City has one Local Health Officer appointed as a Constable to enforce this ordinance. That person will start with education to achieve compliance in response to any complaints. As this person has been appointed a constable by the City Council, they will also have the ability to issue tickets to those in violation of the ordinance. Violations can result in fines ranging up to $500 for each violation.  

Additionally, following the January 3 City Council meeting, the Emergency Order, which required the City Council to hold its meetings remotely, was rescinded. The emergency order ends on January 13, 2022. Following the repeal of the Emergency Order, the Council and all other City boards and committees can still meet remotely in accordance with their Remote Meeting Policies, which were adopted back in July and August, 2021. Although the Emergency Order does not address minimum wages, its repeal does have impacts on the City’s minimum wage ordinance. A new minimum wage went into effect on January 1, 2022, as did a requirement that employers pay hazard pay at 1.5 times the minimum wage when an emergency order issued by the State or the City is in effect. The repeal of the Emergency Order, effective January 13, will therefore suspend the requirement for hazard pay as of that date as well.

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