The town of Falmouth is distributing single-use, disposable masks to local businesses in an effort to curb the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

The Falmouth Town Council on Monday narrowly rejected a town-wide indoor mask mandate, 4-3.

The question was brought before the council due to the omicron variant surge as well as similar mandates in surrounding areas, including Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Cumberland.

“For me, this was about saving lives and preserving the health and safety of our community,”  Councilor Hope Cahan, who supported the mandate along with Peter LaFond and Tommy Johnson, told the Forecaster. “I hope the COVID-19 numbers rapidly decline and there is no need to consider a mask requirement in the future. However, I fear this pandemic is not done with us yet.”

According to the Maine CDC, the daily average number of COVID-19 cases in Cumberland County on Jan. 30 was 279, up from 90 on Nov. 25, 2021. As of Jan. 24, 99% of Falmouth residents had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Councilor Jay Trickett, who voted against the mandate along with Chairperson Amy Kuhn, Ted Asherman and Janice De Lima, argued a mandate would negatively impact the local businesses. Trickett also said he felt the vote was rushed.

“I probably know 100 people who have been infected by COVID in the past month,” Trickett said at the meeting. “I don’t believe this mask mandate would have prevented those infections.”


Trickett added: “COVID feels very different to me today than it did two years ago. … I’m very concerned we do not have a concrete objective.”

Among Kuhn’s concerns was the difficulty in enforcing the mandate.

“The ordinance called for law enforcement to respond to complaints and I did not want to see residents calling the police on each other in stores,” Kuhn wrote in an email to the Forecaster on Tuesday.

Kuhn also wrote that she was “uncomfortable with the Council’s ability to make evidence-based decisions during an ongoing pandemic.”

“If we had public health staff we might be able to assess data in our community and make sound decisions on when to impose or continue or lift mandates,” she said. “This confusion was evident in the proposed ordinance itself, which would have required a mask to grocery shop but allow folks to gather in bars without one.”

Still, Kuhn said she encouraged residents to mask-up indoors, especially while the omicron variant is still present.


A mask mandate should still be kept on the “front burner” and that the council will continue to regularly discuss COVID, she said at the meeting.

During a public comment period, however, some residents felt the time for a mandate is over.

Resident John Winslow said individuals and businesses should be permitted to do what they think is best.

Camille Nelson, a substitute teacher in Falmouth schools, which has a mask mandate, disagreed. She said the quarantining of teachers is adversely impacting students, whereas a mandatory, 30-day mandate would decrease case numbers.

Some businesses and organizations in Falmouth already have mask mandates in place.

Maine State Ballet in Falmouth has mandated masking since June 2020. The ballet company has avoided outbreaks and closures as a result, according to Assistant Director Glenn Davis.

Falmouth will encourage voluntary masking and will offer free personal protection kits to local businesses and organizations that include surgical masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and signs asking people to mask up. Funding will come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

As of Jan. 28, 76 businesses and organizations have signed up for PPE kits. Town Manager Nathan Poore said any business can participate. Businesses that signed up last week will likely receive their kits by the end of this week and kits will continue to be delivered on a rolling basis as more sign up. More information is available at

“At this time, we require our customers to wear masks. We have a small footprint, so physical distancing is difficult,” Town Landing Market owner MaryBeth Bachman said. “Falmouth’s support in providing PPE is greatly appreciated. Our cost to provide PPE to our customers and staff has been significant and support is truly helpful.”

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