Town Council Struggles With State Mask Mandate

by Chris Paul

During the Town Council meeting held on Monday evening, April 19, members of the board were asked by Chairman John Farrell about their feelings on lifting the mask requirement in town facilities.

With the Governor’s order to lift the state mandate on wearing masks, Farrell said he has received a number of emails over the weekend, and wondered how the council wanted to proceed with the requirement.

He remind his fellow members that there is no mandate in town, but they had issued a resolution last year with guidance and recommendations.

He added that the only place where masks are mandated are at the Town Hall and he felt the board should hold off removing that order.

Farrell also told the members that he had seen the the LAFA (Londonderry Athletic Field Association) complex has instituted a mask mandate on the baseball and softball fields.

The LYSA (Londonderry Youth Soccer Association) has followed suit and done the same with the soccer fields.

He also mentioned that any enforcement of these policies has to be done by the leagues that are instituting them.

Because they are league rules and not town rules the Londonderry Police cannot enforce them. It is up to the leagues.

Farrell finished by saying that he received a letter from staff requesting the council to hold off on dropping the mask requirement at Town Hall.

Town Councilor Tom Dolan suggested that according to what he has seen from the state, the mask requirement is no longer needed.

Councilor Joe Green agreed, but cautioned that the people working in Town Hall need to be comfortable with what they decide.

Councilor Jim Butler thought the best thing would be to hold off until the next meeting before making a decision.

Fire Chief Darren O’Brien then spoke on the matter.

He stated, “Out of our  53 employees, six of them have not yet received the vaccines.”

He added that those employees are required to wear masks when in contact with other employees and when out in public or on a vehicle.

O’Brien then stated that he understands the science behind lifting the mandate but stated, “I can tell you honestly, numbers in Londonderry are not good. We picked up 68 new cases just last week and we are the fifth highest community in the state.”

He also added that on Sunday they picked up 18 new cases.

“We’re not doing something right somewhere along the line here, and I don’t know what that is. I’m trying to get my finger on it, but don’t know what’s happening.”

He felt that until he sees the numbers decline in Londonderry, he would not be in favor of lifting the requirement.

He finished by saying, “We are not seeing the decreases that other communities are seeing.”

After getting the Fire Chief’s input the Town Council held off on making any definitive changes to the town policy until the next meeting.

Also discussed at the meeting was what to do about the latest Drought Report that shows the area in a to be in a moderate drought.

Council members wrestled with how to handle the continued lack of water and decided that they would institute a water ban beginning at the end of May if the area continues to experience a lack of precipitation.

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