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Portland Council To Discuss Reinstating Indoor Mask Mandate

Darmita Wilson
Robert F. Bukaty
In this March 2, 2021, file photo, Darmita Wilson, left, takes the temperature of a volunteer arriving to help at a COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine.

Concern about rising COVID-19 numbers have prompted a discussion about the possible reinstatement of an indoor mask mandate in Portland.

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council will host a workshop on the public health situation and a possible mandate.

Councilmember Andrew Zarro requested the discussion. He says he has heard from several workers and from business owners who'd like the city to take action.

"We will talk about this in a workshop, where we will learn about what we, as a municipality, can and cannot do about something like a mask mandate," he says.

Zarro says that while he's glad that the council will discuss the issue with local public health and legal staff, he's unsure what, if anything, will come from the meeting.

"I happen to be the one to say, 'Wow, I've heard from enough people that I think we should talk about it.' And my colleagues are open to talking about it as well. I don't think anyone is against talking about it. I think that we owe it to ourselves, and the citizens of Portland, to do that," he says.

While no other towns in Maine are known to have reinstated mask mandates, several other cities nationwide are once again requiring masks indoors, including Boston and Chicago.

Zarro says because Wednesday's meeting is only a workshop, the council wouldn't vote on any formal policies.