The Portland city council has voted to repeal its mask mandate, just over a month after it went into effect. It will end on February 17. City counselors have cited data showing cases are on the decline after a mid-January peak in cases due to the omicron variant. City counselors also initially defended the mandate to reduce hospitalizations, which have now declined by 25%.
City counselors also noted complaints and feedback from small businesses and local residents. Residents also complained about a lack of compliance, with 100 complaints being received through the city’s SeeClickFix app, phone, and email. Violating the ordinance can be met with a fine of up to $500, but no public buildings were fined. The city’s health officer worked with businesses receiving complaints to make sure they were aware of the ordinance and how to better enforce it, making sure signage was in place and understanding if they were having trouble with customers complying.
This comes just two weeks after South Portland followed suit and enforced its own mask mandate. South Portland’s city manager will suspend the mandate if Cumberland County’s seven-day-average of new cases drops to what the U.S. CDC considers “moderate” transmission for 10 consecutive days.