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As COVID cases rise, a few N.H. municipalities reconsider indoor mask requirements

Carline Roberge manages The Karibbean in Lebanon. At her restaurant, she says mask-wearing is the norm.
Alli Fam
Carline Roberge is a manager at The Karibbean in Lebanon. At her restaurant, she says mask-wearing is the norm.

As New Hampshire continues to see record numbers of new COVID-19 cases and high community transmission, a few municipalities have been evaluating whether to reinstate mask requirements.

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Keene’s city council voted in favor of reinstating a mask order Thursday. The decision comes at the urging of local officials from Cheshire Medical Center, reports the Keene Sentinel. The hospital started postponing elective surgeries last month under strain from increased COVID-19 patients.

The Concord City Council will consider requiring masks for workers and customers inside retail businesses next month.

Scientific modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that universal masking does bring down cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus. New Hampshire has not had a statewide mask mandate since April, and Gov. Chris Sununu says he has no plans to reconsider one.

In the Upper Valley, mask-wearing indoors is more widespread than many other places in the state. Hanover and Lebanon both reinstated indoor mask requirements in the late summer. Some nearby towns in Vermont also have mandates.

Manager Carline Roberge at The Karibbean, a Haitian restaurant in Lebanon, looks surprised when the topic of face coverings comes up at all. She says that’s just the norm, inside her business and in other places she goes nearby.

While compliance is generally high in Lebanon, it does vary from business to business, and some businesses try to enforce the mandate while others don’t.

The latter is the case for Jake's Coffee Company in Lebanon, where barista Tim Pare works.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about people,” Pare says. “If they believe they should wear a mask, great, if not, we don’t enforce it here, right now.”

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