Brunswick’s indoor mask mandate is no longer in effect.

The town council voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind the mandate immediately, after approving it on Jan. 6 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 and provide relief for the local hospital.

It applied to all public spaces, such as restaurants, stores and gas stations.

The repeal comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline statewide, and as wastewater testing data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a decrease in virus levels throughout Maine

“Whether you live here, work here, shop here, own a business here, whether you wear your mask enthusiastically or grudgingly, whether you acknowledge the science around masking or whether you are, yes, a skeptic, at some point in the last few months, you likely helped a perfect stranger dodge an infection,” Town Council Vice-Chairperson Dan Ankeles said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We may never know the positive ripple effects of each failed COVID-19 transmission moment.”

In Brunswick, CDC wastewater testing samples show an almost fivefold decrease of coronavirus levels in two weeks, from a normalized virus concentration of 1.18 million on Jan. 27 to just under 273,000 on Feb. 10.


At the time the mandate was enacted, Mid Coast Hospital was treating 24 inpatients for COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the hospital was treating four inpatients for the virus, one of whom was in intensive care.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mid Coast Hospital asked that, in accordance with CDC guidance, members of public continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces when community transmission levels of COVID-19 are high or substantial. As of Feb. 23, the US CDC identified all counties in Maine to have high levels of COVID-19 community transmission.

Like other municipalities that enacted similar rules, the mandate stirred debate among residents and business owners. Over the 41 days that it was in effect, Brunswick’s Police Chief Scott Stewart said the department received 49 complaints related to the mandate, although no summonses were issued.

Peter Robbins, owner of Bohemian Coffee House & Deli in Brunswick, said in an interview Wednesday that he was against town’s mandate. Business was down 20% on the first day it was imposed, Robbins said, and that deficit has continued since. He said several customers have made explicit remarks to him while promising to never come back.

“I think a good group of (customers) will return, but people are creatures of habit,” Robbins said. “People who came here every single day for the past however many years all of a sudden … went some place in Topsham, who didn’t do this to their businesses, and now that’s their routine and we will probably never see them again.”

Masks are now optional at Bohemian, the same as before the mandate. Robbins estimated that about half of the customers on Wednesday morning were wearing one.


The owner of Maine Pines Racquet & Fitness, Rob Manter, said that masks were required in all common and social spaces at his business prior to the mandate. The town’s rules “toughened up” the requirements at the gym, Manter said, where masks became universally required, except for on the tennis courts, which was considered a private space

“I wasn’t against the town for coming up with the mandate. I think we here have been pretty safety conscious. I think most of our customers have been appreciative of that,” Manter said. “So, I think it was the right move, and also think it was the right move to take it off the way the numbers were going, the way the trends were going.”

Manters said that under 10 people put memberships on hold after the mandate kicked in, which he said will impact profit in the short term, although he is hopeful the members will return.

Earlier in February, Freeport, Bath and Portland also either voted to rescind their mandates or let them expire.

According to the Maine CDC, just over 77% of eligible Maine residents had received a final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday. In Brunswick, the Maine CDC estimates that 88% of eligible residents are vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, a total of 222,925 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Maine, resulting in 1,971 deaths. In Cumberland County, 46,029 cases had been reported and 325 deaths.

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