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Mask mandate reenacted at Bethlehem Town H

November 24, 2021
BETHLEHEM — In response to escalating COVID-19 case numbers in the region, the Bethlehem Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Nov. 15 to reinstate masking requirements in the town's administrative building. The new rule applies to all who enter the building, regardless of vaccination status.

That morning, state reports indicated that Littleton had 57 active cases, while Whitefield had 20. Reports from Bethlehem indicated eight COVID cases, and Lisbon had 14.

Statewide, the case number was 6,295, with 260 hospitalizations. More than 900 new cases were reported across New Hampshire in one day on Saturday, Nov. 13.

All board members remained masked throughout the meeting, with the exception of one who attended virtually. Not all members of the public who attended wore masks.

When the agenda item came into discussion, one resident said she was concerned about the board's decision. Cathy Qi argued that, according to the latest CDC guidelines, masks were ineffective and potentially detrimental.

Qi brought printed materials from the Centers for Disease Control to the meeting. She suggested the board follow CDC guidelines rather than require masks inside the building.

Board member April Hibbard responded, "Obviously, this is a controversial topic, and articles can be brought in from opposing opinions. Doctors have stated that masks work. My opinion is to err on the side of caution. Our governor has allowed municipalities to make their guidance."

Fellow board member Chris Jensen added, "I'm not going to engage in a debate about masks."

Before making a motion to enact the mandate, board member Veronica Morris noted, "I would like to make clear that face mask use is number six in the State of New Hampshire's universal best practices list. Should they choose to, business and event organizations are able to require employees, visitors and customers to wear face masks upon entering their facility or venue."

The motion passed 5-0 with no opportunity for further public comment.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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