Opinions vary on town-by-town mask policies for Vermont

As a compromise offer to Democrats who are calling for a new statewide mask mandate in Vermont, Republican Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday that while his administration will not be implementing new COVID-related mandates for now, he would support a town-by-town approach if lawmakers approve the idea Monday in a special session.

“At this phase in the pandemic, with more than 20 months of experience, broad, top-down mandates and the overuse of executive emergency power is not appropriate and counterproductive to our ultimate path forward, which is getting more people vaccinated and boosted,” Scott said in a statement. “COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and perhaps could be with us for decades, which is why we need to use the experience and knowledge we’ve gained managing the virus to continue moving forward.”

His compromise proposal is to let towns choose individually how to approach the masking issue.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

NO STATE MANDATES FOR MASKING: Gov. Phil Scott said there will be no statewide masking mandates for Vermont, but if the Legislature approves, individual towns can implement a local mandate.

“My offer is to call them back for a special session for the sole purpose of passing a law that would give municipalities the authority to implement mask mandates in their communities,” Scott said. “I’ve asked for this authority to end by April 30 and the legislation to stipulate that municipalities have to revote on it every 30 days, just like we did for the State of Emergency.”

The governor also pointed out that Vermont is with 44 other states in the nation that have currently decided against imposing further mandates. And he noted that any new powers granted to towns via this measure must be renewed every 30 days by the Legislature, not unlike how the prior state of emergency had to be renewed each month during most of 2020.

The governor’s desire to avoid future mandates was echoed by his Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

“They [health departments in other states] find that populations are not in the mood to be mandated on anything,” he said.

Scott’s preference for local choice has been tried in other parts of the country. Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis initially embraced a town-by-town approach for COVID policies in the Sunshine State, which has since evolved into an individual parent-by-parent policy. DeSantis has achieved substantial popularity gains, and his state now has the fastest growing economy in the nation.

Despite such trends, Vermont Democrats have made calls for a statewide mask mandate a priority over the past weeks.

“The governor has stated that he has the tools available to support our communities, but has yet to utilize those tools and has not articulated when the appropriate time is to roll out the mitigation strategies we know work,” Vermont House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D, Burlington, recently wrote. “That time is now. That time was yesterday. That time was a month ago.”

On Twitter, Rep. Barbara Rachelson, D, Burlington, was among those to demand that Vermonters be required to wear masks.

Rep. William Notte, D-Rutland, was another to call for Vermonters to have masks.

Amongst the citizenry, writer and activist Greg Dennis from Middlebury was another to sound off on masking.

But Jennifer Stella, of Health Choice Vermont, says that if the governor is to follow the state laws, he is correct to not push for another mandate.

“As you may know today in Vermont only the Legislature has the authority to create mandates. This ensures a deliberative process and equal protections under the law when it comes to public health police powers and emergency powers. In addition any Health Orders are also prescribed by statute to be carried out seeking voluntary compliance,” she wrote.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Michael Bielawski/TNR

23 thoughts on “Opinions vary on town-by-town mask policies for Vermont

  1. We’ve had mask mandates before. Now we’re told that we have skyrocketing COVID rates. So then why on earth would repeating a horrifically failed mask mandate be expected to have any result at all? This is pure insanity and it makes absolutely no sense at all.

  2. COVID virus size= 1 micron
    Disposable mask smallest mesh= 3 microns
    What part of “masks are useless” don’t they understand?
    Where is the outrage from the cults that are so concerned about the environment with regard to the 1,000,000,000’s of masks containing non-biodegradable plastic fibers that are being thrown away each day? Discarded masks are appearing on roadsides, in parking lots, floating in the oceans, lakes and streams, and accumulating in landfills at an ever-increasing rate. It’s to put to rest all this nonsense and return to normal breathing!

    • “It’s (time) to put to rest all this nonsense and return to normal breathing!”
      Sorry 🙁 not editing option available.

  3. Governor Scott continues to resist calls for him to take dictatorial power by invoking a “state of emergncy”. He also rightly recognizes the limitation of mandates while being willing to compromise and allow those municpalities who choose to require their own mandates.

    The reality is that we Covid-19 and its variants will be with us for the foreseeable future and we have to find staragies to live our lives with it. The delta vairant is extremely transmissable and goes through states and countries in waves. We are now in the midst of our own wave which has come a bit later than other places. It is likely that most Vermonters will at some point be exposed to it.

    At this point each of us has to make individual decisions and those of us with business and responsibity for the health of others have to make decisions on how to run their operations. It is worth noting that while cases numbers are currently high, Vermont still has the 8th lowest rate of hospitalizations. This is likely due to our high rate of vaccinatons ( over 90% rate fo vaccinations for those over 12 ) in Vermont. Why vaccination does not guarantee not getting Covid, it does mitigate its effects. It is also worth noting that even though only around 10% of Vermonters are unvaccinated, they account for 70% of the hospitalizations and deaths.

    At this point, I think Governor Scott has it right. We should constantly be consider the evidence, be willing to adjust our position based on what currently is happening, advocate for our point of view, and respect those with differing views. Leaders should not try to assume dictatorial power and stick to using our existing system of representative government.

    • “It is also worth noting that even though only around 10% of Vermonters are unvaccinated, they account for 70% of the hospitalizations and deaths.”

      Perhaps it’s equally noteworthy that over the last two months, during the recent surge in cases (September and October), 65% of Vermont’s Covid deaths have been vaccinated people.

  4. The only answer the fear-mongers have is to wash, rinse, repeat failed policies. Meanwhile, Vermont leading the nation with a 70% increase of overdose deaths from 4/2020-4/2021 reported in the NY post. They don’t want to talk about that in the special session do they? The State is doomed.

  5. There are a multitude of facts now available about mask mandates- and the efficacy of masks, the same applies to lockdowns and there is emerging evidence of what harm the “Vaccine” does.
    balint, krowinski and every other House and Senate member need to inform themselves of the available information before they vote your rights away on Monday. A review on Vermont’s Constitution is in order as well. Any legislation emerging from this Special Session will be challenged in court- no matter what these legislators do. Pertinent articles of the Vermont Constitution are:
    Articles 3, 4 and particularly Art. 18. There is a certain group of Vermont citizens and legislators that want safety and control- and are more than willing to dive down a rabbit hole to get it.
    As the rush to jab arms for the 3rd time continues, there is some anecdotal evidence that the “booster” may be a Trojan horse, enabling infection to spread rapidly. Don’t look to fauci or the CDC to even comment on that. We are truly on our own to decide what course of action is best for each of us- the politicians and bureaucrats have their marching orders- and your health and safety is NOT their priority.
    Credit Ron DeSantis-
    “And the fact of the matter is you don’t have the right to do wrong.”
    “And so the question is, do we actually have a constitution that constrains people like Biden or is it just when he loses patience, he can do whatever the hell he wants to? No, I’ll take the Constitution, thank you very much.”

  6. Leave personal medical choices to the bureaucrats and politicians – the ‘experts’.
    Outsourcing medicine to local snake oils salesman or ‘useful idiot.’
    Perpetuating a lie.
    Imposing tyranny.

    I’ll be consulting MY medical professionals about the benefits of cutting off oxygen to my brain, thank you very much.
    MY second opinion said: At your own risk. You can expect headaches, foggy brain, increased emotional instability, depression, and increased health issues from prolonged lack of oxygen. Oh, and damage to the brain is permanent.
    Qui bono?

  7. Trying to stop Covid with a mask is like trying to sop a mosquito with a chain link fence. Just say NO!

    “The American answer to overbearing authority is defiance”. – Ayn Rand

    • Notice where highly vaccinated Vermont is? Tired of hearing excuses about this and that and the other thing. Plain fact is that we should be where Florida is but we’re not. Hello? Something isn’t right.

      • Don’t let science get in the way of political science….and propaganda!

        Why hasn’t Scott been suggesting alternative or allowing alternative treatments.


        Meanwhile people are literally dying while they control the entire narrative, by they I mean uniparty right and uniparty left, making up the cabal of unipartydom. We are arguing over something that doesn’t even work, there is no science behind it. It’s like the perfect uniparty foil, they love this stuff. And at thanks giving, instead of enjoying a wonderful peaceful meal, we’ll be arguing about what type of face mask and if we should even have thanksgiving.

        Meanwhile people in Houston have reduced mortality by 90%. A country in Indial has eradicated covid, in a month and because of the treatments, nobody is even getting covid.

        The uniparty is nobodies friend. The love of money and power is ruining this country. If we’re fighting they are winning….they clearly have control of VTGOP 50%+ and 80+% of the Vermont Dems.

        Can’t have leadership that wants us to be a colony of the UN, if we want to be free.

      • That graph should be shoved in the faces of all the nazi D’s that want a sledge hammer solution that will fix nothing.. Look at Italy which was one of the worst at the outset along with India who isn’t
        even registering on the graph anymore…. What did they do????
        They got wise instead of stuck on stupid and moved to alternative
        med’s kicking the vax to the curb.. If they want to lock down their constituents fine but leave the rest of the state alone.. Maybe their voters will wise up and vote them out next time around.

        • Doubtful for a vote out, they have people terrified with all the constant propaganda, you should see our local paper and all the opinion pieces.

          They have people hoodwinked, oh my god, if we cut the budget at all, then people would starve, how cruel can you be? Yeah, people’s gravy train in government would take a hit! That’s what they don’t want!

          Biggest con job on the planet, just like eb5! Notice how deft they are in handling such alarge 5 billion dollar scandal, able to sweep it under the rug and hide it from the public? Those skill, coordination and sheer mockery of Justice didn’t happen overnight!

          People think Leahy’s retirement announcement is about passing the torch? It’s about torches alright, avoiding pitch forks and torches! Notice none of his review of career accomplishments don’t talk about eb5????

          And they have everyone worried VERMONT won’t be getting money, now that pat is retiring!

          Another UNIPARTY trick! We are being played. Over and over.

  8. While I oppose mask (and vaccine) mandates I am in favor of the decentralized route- more so than “mandates” coming from the state or federal governments. If a town or business wants to mandate something, I as and individual have more say than if a state or federal government mandated something. If your town is looking to mandate something you oppose than attend the select board/town meetings and bring your like minded friends just like we see with parents attending school board meetings about CRT being taught… if a business is enforcing these things patronize another business or start talking with coworkers to strategize how to combat the business’s overreach.

    Stop voting along party lines find individuals who align with your views and vote for them (or don’t vote altogether) and leave blank or write in someone the positions you don’t know who the candidates are. Stop voting based on the lesser of two evils. I fell for that in the last election and voted for Phil Scott instead of voting for my personal “ideal candidate”.

    • Indeed, that businesses mandate masks or vaccines is one thing. We have the choice whether or not to work there or do business with them.

      But a ‘municipality’ having that authority is another matter entirely. Two wolves and a lamb can vote on what to have for lunch nationally, by state, or in a municipality. After all, had you voted for your ‘personal ideal candidate’ for Governor, would you be any better off today?

      That’s why we have the U.S. Constitution – at least until the wolves try to take that away too.

  9. I will repeat this everywhere:

    If vaccines and masks work so well, then why has Vermont, the state with the highest vaccination rate in the US, such a high number of COVID cases, whereas Florida, where there’s no mask or vaccine mandate, has the lowest. Same with California—high mask and vaccination rates and high infection rates. That should give anyone a hint.

    And if this were really about health, why is there no vaccine mandate for Congress and its staffers, as well as for the illegal immigrants flooding into the US by the millions?

    And if the vaccines truly worked, why are the vaccinated so terrified of the unvaccinated?

    I dare a Democrat or Progressive to answer these questions; so far, nobody has.

  10. This is so stupid. If masks were the answer, then Sweden would have huge cases and deaths from Covid-19. They don’t and they didn’t because masks don’t make any difference. This is a real-world experiment.

    If those screaming for solutions to save us really want to save us, then they should get off their butts and go to https://covid19criticalcare.com/ They don’t do this because what they really want deep down isn’t that people are free and tolerant of others and that we have a respectful doctor-patient relationship without state control and without Nazi-like medical tyranny in our hospitals; but that people will look to them as leaders and obey their wisdom, just as they’re in turn obedient to Fauci and the other liars. These would-be tyrants are happiest when they’re wearing the jackboot but they want these to be stylish, gender-neutral jackboots that are all about inclusion– except for those bastards who don’t do what they want them to do or think like they do or go along with the woke du jour.

    People are dying? Is that what they’re worried about? No, they’re not, because the real solution is staring them in the face. What they want is to be part of the Petty Tyrant’s Club so they don’t dare go outside the dictates of the circle of tyrants and their bastardization of the science and the data.

    Sorry, but anyone paying attention and not hypnotized has got to be angry over what’s happening.

    The solution is simple. The complete ignorance is like a bad dream or an episode of The Twilight Zone.

    Governor Scott is right about one thing: people are getting mighty fed up with this BS.

  11. They do not protect you from the virus. They are nothing more than a subservient submission to the socialist state. On the positive, it makes it easy to identify those that Lenin referred to as “Useful Idiots”.

  12. Scott is, for a change, correct. Florida proved it worked. Towns that enact mask mandates will lose business and be unhappy places. Towns that do not will gain business and be happier places. Last I looked, Vermont Covid cases were up but the death rate for confirmed infections is under one percent.

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