Freeport councilors are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to adopt an indoor mask mandate for all public spaces to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Similar to the recently adopted mandates in Brunswick and Portland, the rules would apply to businesses like restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores as well as public transportation. Bath will also review a proposed mask mandate for public indoor places on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

According to Freeport Town Council Chairperson Dan Piltch, the council is considering the mandate because constituents have requested it and to support local healthcare facilities that are experiencing record high COVID-19 hospitalizations.

As proposed, the mandate would be implemented on an emergency basis, going into effect on Jan. 19 and lasting for 30 days unless renewed. Businesses would be required to post signs indicating the new rules by Jan. 25.

The mandate would apply to anyone age five or older, and exceptions are outlined for any customers that are participating “in the primary purpose” of a business, such as eating or drinking, so long as the mask removal occurs “at an isolated location, such as a table or booth.”

Refusing to follow the mandate would be considered a civil violation, subject to a fine of up to $500.

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 75.8% of eligible Maine residents had received a final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday. In Freeport, the Maine CDC estimates that 86% of eligible residents are vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, 161,395 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in total statewide, resulting in 1,658 deaths. In Cumberland County, 32,017 cases had been reported and 648 deaths.

The council’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. and representatives from Mid Coast Hospital will be present to give an update on COVID-19 locally.

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