On December 9, 2020

Wear a mask, or stay home

Dear Editor,

Last night on my way home from work I stopped by Stewart’s State Street store to pick up a gallon of milk. After I left, I had gone about one block when a police cruiser popped out behind me, lights flashing. The officer told me she was pulling me over because my headlights were not on. I might be a DUI, she said.

Segue to almost total lack of enforcement for failure to wear a face covering in public, a measure intended to contain an aggressive, deadly virus. Hundreds of people in Vermont continue to be infected, many dozens have died, many more than a drunk driver can take out at any given time.

Why is this declared state of emergency not enforced the way driving without headlights is?

Tonight I stopped in at the Aldi market on South Main Street to pick up a couple of staples. The store was full of shoppers, virtually all wearing masks. Floors are marked, but as people observe the 6-foot distance to the checkout counter, line up in the aisles, maybe 3 feet apart. A prominent poster at the door states that people without face coverings cannot come in, but a couple and a single guy breezed right in, maskless. The couple stopped right next to the waiting line to browse the shelves. All three appeared quite healthy.

When I questioned the 30-something manager, he had his arguments ready: it’s not a law, they post the notice at the door, that is all they have to do. Yet all the employees were wearing masks.

So now the burden is on me to watch for symptoms, to get tested, and possibly end up in quarantine with no way to bring in a paycheck. Children have to report who they spent time with on holidays.

Why is that burden put on the rest of us for the sake of those who object to masks? Why is the state waiting until the horse is gone before they close the door? Now the state of Vermont is facing a fiscal crisis, to pay the bills incurred by this latest explosion of Covid — which has been traced to a few individuals who thought they were special.

Enforcement must not be left up to ordinary citizens just trying to conduct their own business.

At the very least, the next Legislature must pass a bill that imposes a significant fine for anyone not wearing a mask in public places. If you can’t tolerate wearing a mask, stay home.

Julia Purdy,


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