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Salem Considers Imposing $200 Face Mask Fine

Face masks
Centers for Disease Control

Officials in Salem are considering imposing a fine on anyone not wearing a mask or face covering in indoor public locations in town.

If passed, it is believed the municipal order would be first of its kind in New Hampshire.

With over 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Salem has one of the state’s highest infection numbers. And with local retailers, including the Rockingham Mall, opening on Monday, the town expects more visitors in the coming weeks.

Selectman James Keller said with increasing risk, the town should impose stricter rules.

“If we have any success in opening up and not having to close down again, really creating a sense of comfort and protection for everyone is vital,” he said.

Keller is proposing the town require face coverings in all locations other than restaurants. People who violate the order could get a $200 fine. Keller predicted violations would rarely result in a fine, but said the threat of it could encourage better compliance with existing state and CDC guidelines.

Some residents who say the order would violate their civil liberties are organizing a petition against it.

The Board of Selectman will hear comments on the proposed order via email and phone at their meeting Monday night. 

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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