Nashua, NH, May Start Requiring Face Coverings at Stores, Restaurants

The proposed ordinance still needs to go to the full Board of Aldermen for a vote

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Although they are strongly recommended in New Hampshire, cloth face coverings are not required. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues, city officials in Nashua may make face coverings mandatory in some locations.

During a virtual meeting Wednesday evening, the Nashua Board of Public Health recommended that the city require retail customers and restaurant patrons wear face coverings as the crisis continues.

The proposed ordinance was unanimously endorsed during the meeting but still needs to go to the full Board of Aldermen for a vote.

Alderwoman at-Large President Lori Wilshire said the board expects to take up the ordinance at its next meeting on May 26. If it passes, it will then be a city-wide mandate.

"I would rather see that than have to legislate it. But if we have to legislate it than we do," Wilshire said Thursday.

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Under the proposal, people dining outside would have to wear a face covering until they are seated. Children under 10 wouldn't be required to wear them.

Wilshire said it's too soon to know how law enforcement will handle the mandate but business owners could decide.

"Well, it's like wearing shoes and shirts. I mean, that's a public health risk just like this is. So no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service," she said.

So far, every alderman but one seems to support the mandate so far, Wilshire said. She added that some residents are already opposing the idea but said it is for the public's well-being and safety.

"People say, 'I have rights.' Well the rest of us have rights, too. We have rights to live," Wilshire said.

On Monday, New Hampshire restaurants can start serving diners who are sitting outside, and officials in Manchester are getting creative to make it happen.
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