Burlington mayor proposes city mask mandate

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 5:52 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:49 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Mask up, Burlington. Mayor Miro Weinberger is using the OK from state lawmakers to propose a mask mandate in the Queen City.

The mayor stresses this mandate would be different than one Burlington has seen in the past. He says if a public indoor space like a restaurant or a gym requires vaccinations for all people in the room, they’re exempt from a mask mandate.

“I think we are both not in an emergency and we’re still in a place where we’re challenged by COVID,” said Weinberger, D-Burlington.

Less than 24 hours after state lawmakers give the go-ahead for towns and cities to implement a mask mandate, Weinberger is proposing a mask ordinance to the City Council.

Under his proposal, if you’re indoors in a public setting, you need to mask up. But there are loopholes to the rule.

“The most significant change we’re focused on is the possibility of offering exemptions to businesses that require proof of vaccination before patrons enter the site,” Weinberger said.

The mayor’s proposed mask mandate would also exempt vaccinated workers who work in private, places of worship and schools in the Burlington School District because they follow the protocol from the Agency of Education.

“I think it’s really important to recognize we’re in a different place,” Weinberger said.

Burlington Business Association Executive Director Kelly Devine says the mayor and dozens of local businesses met Tuesday morning to gauge how they would feel about a mask mandate.

“A lot of them have put their own policies in place and were worried how a new policy would fit into that,” Devine said.

She says the priority of the businesses is the safety of the employees and the customers.

“I would say that businesses had different types of opinions. They’re very concerned about protecting their employees first and foremost, and making sure visitors are safe,” Devine said.

This proposed ordinance will go to the City Council at a special meeting on Dec. 1. If passed, the mandate would be reconsidered every 30 days and could be suspended if Chittenden County’s COVID case count decreases to a moderate level.

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