Opposition is mounting against a proposal to implement even more stringent face mask requirements in Nashua.
With an aldermanic panel set to review a proposed amendment to the city’s existing mask ordinance on Thursday, several residents are speaking out against the recommendation.
The new proposal, if adopted by aldermen, states that “no business and no employee of any business shall provide goods or services to any person not complying with face covering requirements … no business and no employee of any business shall permit a person to remain on its premises in violation of these requirements.”
Catherine Norton, owner of Norton’s Classic Cafe in downtown Nashua, said in a written statement to city officials that after having to shut down her business for three months and reopen at half capacity with other restrictions, she may now be required to police mask wearing.
“No,” Norton wrote regarding enforcing masks, “And I will work with my family that lives and owns property in Nashua and all of the contacts I know to vote out anyone who votes that we do. Enough is enough.”
In his statement, Travis Tripodi of Nashua argued that the newest proposal takes away the freedom of a business owner to operate their business how they see fit.
“Businesses and individuals do not need the government — federal, state or local — to tell them how to live their lives or operate their businesses. When people talk about how ordinances such as this are a slippery slope, this is exactly what they are talking about,” said Tripodi.
The original mask mandate adopted in May already requires customers to wear face masks while visiting stores, restaurants and other business establishments in Nashua.
Not only should the city reject the proposed amendment to the original mask ordinance, it should also rescind the original mask mandate, contends Tripodi.
Currently, the proposal is being endorsed by nine city aldermen and Mayor Jim Donchess.
Donchess said last week that the number of COVID-19 cases are down significantly in Nashua, and the city must continue to exercise caution.
“We want to keep our friends, our family, our neighbors and community members, we want to all be safe,” he said, urging everyone to wear face masks.
In speaking with medical experts and the city’s Board of Health, Donchess said the health professionals agree that wearing masks protects all individuals who encounter another person.
Sharon Giglio, a member of the Nashua Board of Education, wrote a letter to aldermen expressing support for the amended mask ordinance.
“I do not want business owners to be assaulted in trying to enforce this, but our future and our lives depend on mask wearing,” said Giglio, explaining she stopped shopping at Shaw’s grocery store on Main Street since many customers do not wear face masks.
Giglio said she spoke with a store manager and was told that the face mask mandate is difficult to enforce, and that some patrons can be threatening.
“Adding some teeth” to the existing mandate might be helpful, Giglio said.
Others feel a more stringent mask requirement would strip away citizen rights.
“This ordinance, if passed, will force store clerks into a law enforcement role that they should not be responsible for, turn people against each other and will more than likely lead to violence,” wrote John Cawthron of Nashua, arguing there is no science behind the mask mandate.
The aldermanic personnel and administrative affairs committee will review the proposal on Thursday.