ROCKLAND — “I think we’ve all acknowledged that ‘at all times’ isn’t practical and sort of defies common sense,” said Councilor Sarah Austin during the May 10 Rockland City Council meeting. “If you are walking down Main Street at 4 in the morning, and you are the only person in sight, having to wear a mask, at this point, really doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Austin proposes to follow Maine mask-wearing guidelines as they evolve at the State and national levels, and to rescind last year’s Rockland-specific mandate, effective July 26, 2020, that requires mask-wearing in the downtown zone at all times.
“It’s faster for the State to be able to have their guidelines as needed,” said Austin. “And for us not to be a month behind in trying to change them. So for folks visiting in the summer, I think it would be really helpful for them to not have to think about what Rockland’s specific local ordinances require, as opposed to what the state of Maine is requiring as a whole.”
People are still being good about distancing and mask-wearing, she said. And distancing and indoor mask-wearing are still recommended at the higher government levels.
“I really do trust that the vast majority of people who live here, and who are visiting here, exercise good common sense,” said Austin. “We have good vaccination rates.”
Also in the Rockland mandate is the requirement that any entities using public outdoor space must adhere to state guidance and guidelines. According to Austin, those requirements are already built in to the current parklet and public space programs. The mandate is therefore redundant, according to her.
“So, I think that sticking with the State guidelines, as they are, is the most forward way to go for people to understand what is expected of them.”
As Councilors move to vote on the ordinance amendment during the June Council meeting, Mayor Ed Glaser continues to plea for community vigilance and vaccination.
“I know we’ve talked about taking down the signs downtown,” he said. “For anybody who is hesitant, thinking about it, I just want to remind people, it’s easier than ever to get a vaccine for COVID-19. Please, this is not just about you. This is about helping the community. This is how we save all of us from having to wear masks, if everybody gets vaccinated, masks become unimportant and unnecessary. So, please think about it.”