The town of Falmouth will look to join a growing list of southern Maine communities that in recent weeks have adopted mask mandates for their public buildings.

Members of the Falmouth Town Council will meet virtually Monday night in a special meeting to consider adoption of an emergency ordinance requiring all persons over the age of 5 to wear face coverings in publicly accessible buildings.

A publicly accessible building is defined in the town’s emergency ordinance as including but not limited to businesses, retail establishments, and organizations patronized by the public. Exceptions to the mask mandate will include public schools, which already require masks, and houses of worship, according to a copy of the ordinance posted on the town’s website.

If the Town Council should vote to enact the emergency ordinance at its meeting Monday, the mask mandate will go into effect on Friday, Feb. 4, and would remain in effect through March 5, Town Manager Nathan Poore said.

Monday’s virtual meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Public comment will be heard, but comments will be limited to three minutes per person.

Consideration of a masking requirement in Falmouth comes as Maine experiences a surge of COVID-19 cases fueled by a highly contagious variant known as omicron.


In recent days and weeks, governing bodies in Portland, South Portland, Freeport, Bath and Brunswick have adopted some form of mask-covering mandate for indoor settings.

Portland’s mask ordinance took effect Jan. 5. It requires all people entering public buildings in the city to wear coverings over their noses and mouths. A public building is any building or portion of a building that’s regularly accessible to the general public. That does not include private homes or residential units; public schools, which fall under the jurisdiction of the school board and are already requiring masks indoors and on school buses; and churches and other places of worship.

Other exceptions in Portland’s ordinance are office spaces where the occupants are separated from the general public and portions of theaters, gyms and athletic arenas where participants all have been vaccinated and there is either space, a physical barrier or ventilation separating them from the general public.

Face coverings also must be worn when using or operating public transportation in Portland, including buses, trains, taxis, ride shares, vehicles for hire and any other ride services. The mandate applies to everyone ages 2 and up, although there are exceptions for people with medical conditions that are complicated or irritated by a face covering and anyone who is having difficulty breathing or is incapacitated. A person who is alone in a public building is also not required to wear a mask.

The city of South Portland’s mask mandate went into effect on Jan. 24. It requires that all people ages age 2 and up wear face coverings or masks when inside a public place. Businesses will be required to post signs visible to the public. The mandate will remain in effect until it is rescinded by the city manager or the proclamation is terminated by the mayor.

Terms of the mandate, posted on the city’s website, state that masks must cover noses and mouths. A public building is defined as any place that is regularly accessible to the general public. Face coverings are also required when using public transportation, including buses, trains, taxis, ride shares, and vehicles for hire.

Unlike similar rules adopted recently in Portland and Brunswick, the South Portland mandate would carry no fines and no city workers would be responsible for enforcing the requirement.

Like Portland and Falmouth, South Portland’s mandate does not apply to public schools, which fall under the jurisdiction of the School Board. South Portland schools already require masks indoors and on school buses. Unlike Portland and Brunswick, South Portland’s mandate does not apply to churches and other places of worship.

Brunswick’s mask mandate, which was unanimously approved by the Town Council, took effect on Jan. 12. Freeport’s 30-day mandate took effect Jan. 19 and Bath’s mandate went into effect Jan. 24.

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