September 15, 2020
A new mask ordinance intended to protect the public health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic goes into effect in the City of Portsmouth NH, from September 15, 2020 through January 4, 2021. The ordinance requires that “all persons to wear face coverings whenever they are in indoor or outdoor places which are accessible to the public, in which a physical distancing of six feet between people who are not members of the same household is not maintained.”
The ordinance defines a “face covering” as “any product that covers the nose and mouth of the person wearing it.” The ordinance exempts a) persons who have a medical or other condition which may pose a risk to the health of the individual wearing the face coverings, b) any person age six or younger or c) any person who is actually engaged in the act of eating or drinking at a business establishment licensed by the City of Portsmouth for that purpose.
The penalty for a violation of the ordinance is a civil citation, enforced by the Portsmouth Police Department, although City officials have expressed the intention first to educate the public about the importance of wearing face coverings to reduce community transmission of COVID-19, rather than punishing offenders.
The Portsmouth City Council unanimously adopted a “mask resolution” on July 13 and worked through the process of First, Second and Third Readings of a draft mask ordinance to allow for public feedback. The City Council voted to adopt the ordinance at their meeting on September 14.