HANSON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Feb. 8, voted to downgrade the Town Hall mask mandate to a recommendation, left to people’s comfort level.
The change went into effect Wednesday, Feb. 9.
“Last time that we met and were considering it, the numbers were over 400,” said Selectmen Chairman Matt Dyer. That number was down to 60 as of the time of the Selectmen’s meeting.
Dyer said that trend echoed the state’s numbers and that the schools’ mask mandate will end Feb. 25, as the DESE and MDPH are reverting to a recommendation only that masks be worn by unvaccinated students and staff [see story, this page].
“I think where we are in terms of the public health crisis, is we’re getting toward the end, or at least we can drop the mask mandate for now and, if it flares back up at a later time, we can always impose this again,” Dyer said, knocking on the wooden table.
Selectman Joe Weeks suggested checking in with the mood of Town Hall employees.
“I don’t want to release mandates, or enforce mandates without checking with the people we’ll be enforcing them on,” he said.
Town Administrator Lisa Green said the majority of people working in Town Hall have been wearing masks when they leave their offices.
“That hasn’t been an issue with anybody,” she said. “I would just recommend that, if people feel they want to wear masks, they can do so. … At this point, I don’t see any need to continue with the mask mandate in Town Hall, unless people on their own, decide they’d like to wear them.”
“That’s the only recommendation I need,” Weeks said.
A disclosure of potential conflict by Town Hall custodian Charlie Baker was deemed unnecessary because he is a member of a Highway Department union and is not a private contractor.
“He plows at night, outside his hours as custodian/maintenance technician for highway in their trucks,” Green said.
In that vein, Weeks urged Selectmen also commended public safety personnel for their response to last month’s blizzard.
“They just had the biggest storm ever,” he said of the January 28 storm.
The board hadn’t met since before the blizzard.
The board extended thanks to the Police, Fire and Highway departments contract plow drivers and National Grid employees for the work they did clearing streets, responding to motor vehicle crashes and keeping the power on.
“The way they worked together to get it all done, I think we’re blessed to have these people in place,” Selectman Jim Hickey said. “They all knew their parts.”
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett offered special congratulations to Highway Director Jameson Shave, who experienced his first major storm in Hanson during a year when it had been difficult finding plow drivers.