Deputy Mayor: Dover Mask Mandate Is ‘Overreaching’
UPDATE (November 19, 3:25 p.m.): New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced a statewide mask mandate that takes effect on November 20.
The City of Dover was divided Wednesday night when Mayor Robert Carrier, among others, presented a new emergency mask ordinance that would require the use of face coverings both inside and outside in certain public spaces.
At a City Council meeting Wednesday night, the ordinance was tabled via a 6-2 vote and did not have a chance to be ratified. Council members and other city officials were split when it came to measuring the merit of the ordinance.
"I will not be supporting this ordinance because it's mandatory, and it forces choice on individuals and residents in the City of Dover," Dover Deputy Mayor Dennis Ciotti said, adding that he felt the measure was "overreaching." Ciotti, who is also the Ward 2 Councilor, supported a resolution in August that encouraged the voluntary use of masks in instances where six feet of distance could not be maintained.
Others, including Ward 3 Councilor Deborah Thibodeaux, pleaded with residents to understand the importance of the measure, which she had co-sponsored with Carrier.
Referencing her degrees in microbiology and immunology, Thibodeaux said numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of masks. She also spoke about the direct impacts COVID-19 has had on society, noting that her mother died in a nursing home in July due to the disease.
"Please understand why we're doing this right now," Thibodeaux said. "We are doing this because we to make sure that people are more safe."
The vote to table the emergency ordinance came after 35 minutes of public comment and numerous emails sent to the council with concerns about a mask mandate in Dover.
City Manager Michael Joyal said the ordinance would be revised and could be brought back for a potential vote at a future meeting.
"We still have an ongoing pandemic," Joyal said. "We have increasing infection rates and community transmission which has been proven to exist in our area," Joyal said. "We have the colder weather coming upon us, and that is only going likely increase the likelihood of COVID transmission."