Shoppers wearing masks cross Front St. in Bath Thursday afternoon. City councilors voted Wednesday to repeal the city’s indoor mask mandate for public spaces effective immediately. Kathleen O’Brien/The Times Record.

Bath City Council voted 5-3 Wednesday to repeal the city’s indoor mask mandate for public spaces effective immediately.

Councilors Mary Ellen Bell, Roo Dunn and Elizabeth Dingley voted against repealing the rule.

“Hospitalizations are down 30% since January, and ICU occupation and ventilator usage are way down,” said Councilor Phyllis Bailey. “I think it’s relatively safe to take the mask mandate off. I think our businesses need the support. We have Winterfest coming up, which is an attempt to bring people into town. I think we can do this without compromising the safety of our community.”

Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick was treating four patients for COVID-19 on Monday compared to the 21 COVID-19 patients the hospital had on Jan. 6.

City Manager Marc Meyers said preliminary tests on the city’s wastewater — which is tested through a federal CDC program — show COVID-19 cases don’t seem to be increasing in Bath.

“Through the limited data we have received, COVID-19, specifically the Omicron variant, is in our community, but does not appear to be spreading as of Feb. 10,” said Meyers. “Or, at least spreading in terms of increasing case numbers or prevalence within the wastewater.”


While Councilor Julie Ambrosino spoke in favor of removing the mask mandate and leaving the decision of whether to require masks indoors up to business owners, Dunn said he believed it wasn’t time yet to remove the rule.

“I appreciate that this is a burden for customers and businesses,” said Dunn. “I agree that the numbers are headed in the right direction, but I’m also cognizant of the fact that … employees come to Bath and BIW from all 16 counties. We’re a mobile society and I don’t think it’s time yet to relax this particular incremental protection. Protection against (COVID-19) is incremental – it’s washing your hands, wearing a mask, sitting a few feet apart – all those things work together.”

The council didn’t take public comments during the discussion.

Bath’s mandate, approved by councilors unanimously on Jan. 19, had a 60-day lifespan. Councilors, however, decided to review the rule and the state of the COVID-19 pandemic locally after 30 days. At that point, they had the power to continue, rescind or change the rule.

Since the rule took effect on Jan. 24, the city’s codes enforcement office received nine mandate violation reports and five complaints about the mandate itself, according to Meyers.

Police Chief Andrew Booth said police received one call for police presence because a customer was disobeying the mandate in the last month. By the time police arrived, however, the customer was gone, Booth said.


Bath nixing its mask mandate comes on the heels of the Portland city council deciding the same in a 7-2 vote on Feb. 7. Freeport councilors also voted to let its mask mandate expire on Wednesday.

Brunswick councilors, however, tabled the decision of whether to cancel its indoor mask mandate. That vote will take place on Feb. 22.

In a statement Monday, Mid Coast Hospital stated it “supports local communities making their own decisions regarding mask mandates based on their current situation.”

The hospital, however, still advised people to continue wearing a mask indoors when an area’s community transmission level — determined by the CDC — remained “high” or “substantial.”

As of Thursday, every county in Maine had “high” transmission, according to the CDC.

The number of new daily cases continues to remain high as the Maine CDC continues to work through a backlog of cases from people who tested positive but weren’t processed by the state. On Thursday, health officials added 3,784 confirmed cases to the pandemic total, the Portland Press Herald reported.

However, updated indicators like wastewater testing and hospitalizations show that cases are weaning in Maine.

Within Sagadahoc County, 4,415 people have tested positive since March 2020 and 26 people have died, according to the Maine CDC.

Since the pandemic began, 206,005 Mainers have tested positive as of Thursday and 1,883 have died.

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