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Berlin weighs mask mandate

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
November 19, 2020
BERLIN — With cases of COVID-19 and deaths on the rise in Coos County, Berlin held a public hearing to discuss a possible mask mandate. Mayor Paul Grenier calls the mandate a "very important public health initiative."

The mandate would require residents to temporarily wear face coverings when indoors in the business community to include restaurants, places of worship or anywhere there is a gathering of people.

Grenier said, "I am making this plea to help our community to get to the other side. Wearing face coverings when within six feet of our friends and neighbors is the right thing to do."

He went on to say, "Cos County is now, on a per capita basis, the hottest spot in the state of New Hampshire. In the Colebrook-West Stewartstown area, there are over 80 cases and now three deaths. Community transmission is widespread and the health care infrastructure needed to treat people is maxed out. The"horse has left the barn" and face covering requirements will only have mixed results for the next eight or so weeks. Businesses are closed up and who knows how many will be able to reopen. This is real and it is past crisis stage."

Grenier, who is also a Coos County Commissioner says he's making the plea for the area, because of the age demographic that is at high risk. He said, "We have more than one nursing home with a combined capacity of over 150 residents. We also have two correctional facilities that are currently housing over 1400 inmates and employ over 650 people. We have an elderly population, many who participated in sacrificing their living standards to support the nation's effort during World War II."

He also made note of school students.

To that, he stated, "We have kids participating in remote learning and not in school, not an ideal situation for many at risk kids. Students are being robbed of their high school activities and socialization. They get no 'second bite' of their high school apples."

An acknowledgement that many businesses won't survive this tragedy through no fault of their own was also made by Grenier.

He urged, "Now is the time to support one another. Berlin and all of Cos has always come together in difficult times. This pandemic is one of those, particularly now that it lays at our doorstep."

Lastly, he said, "By the time this plea is printed, the City Council will hopefully have passed a face coverings required ordinance. This isn't to make criminals out of folks, it isn't meant to make political statements, but to come together at a time of great urgency."

He added, "No one likes wearing a mask. All of us enjoy our freedoms guaranteed to us by our nation's constitution. As a civilized society, however, we have basic responsibilities to each other. Our shared responsibility to one another in time of crisis will define who we are as a community. Please, please let's all make the small sacrifice. Let's show New Hampshire what we can do when we check our differences at the door and roll up our sleeves."

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