City Health Officer Rescinds Face Coverings Directive, Urges Continued Use

February 15, 2022

Portsmouth Manager Karen Conard has just issued the following statement to the City Council:

“Effective immediately, the City of Portsmouth Public Health Officer is rescinding the Public Health Directive on Face Coverings she issued on January 7, 2022, noting a precipitous and sustained drop in test positivity rates in Portsmouth, with area hospitalizations also declining. We do continue to urge that residents follow the guidance of the NH Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC in implementing the layered “package” of mitigation measures that are known to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19.”

The City Manager still strongly encourages the use of masks indoors in City facilities. Please note that masks are still required in the Portsmouth Public Library. The free N95 masks supplied by the Federal government are now available at the following local pharmacies:

  • CVS, 674 Islington St. at checkout, not pharmacy
  • Rite-Aid, 800 Islington St., at checkout, not pharmacy
  • Rite-Aid, 1303 Woodbury Ave., at pharmacy
  • Walmart, 2460 Lafayette Rd., at doors and Service Desk

Test positivity rates on the Seacoast are still higher than they were when the first mask mandate was relaxed last June; and children under 5 are still not able to be vaccinated. Just this week, Pfizer withdrew its request for the FDA to issue Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine they are developing for children aged 6 months to 4 years, which means that vaccine will not be available until spring. Therefore, for the continued protection of small children and high-risk adults in the community, individuals should defend against COVID-19 infection, severe disease and death with continued mask use in indoor spaces, and staying home when experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

NH DHHS recommends that everyone able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters do so, to maintain physical distance and mask indoors, especially in crowded, poorly-ventilated spaces and that those who are sick stay home and get tested and then isolate themselves, mask, and quarantine household members if they test positive. NH DHHS recommends face masks for any person who desires maximal protection for themselves or others, including people who:

  • Have not been fully vaccinated
  • Have a weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19, even after vaccination
  • Want to protect a household member who is medically vulnerable or unvaccinated (i.e., to prevent the person wearing the face mask from picking up COVID-19 and bringing it home).

For more information on Mask Basics, click here.