By Katy Savage
Face masks are required in all public areas in the Woodstock Village, regardless of vaccination status in Woodstock, after a 4-1 Trustee vote on Jan. 11.
Trustees Daphne Lowe, Seton McIlroy, Bill Corson and Jeff Kahn supported the face mask requirement, while Brenda Blackman, the owner of First Impressions Salon and Spa, opposed it.
“It’s a choice at this point, we all should know what to do,” Blackman said in an interview. “I don’t think we should have to treat adults like children.”
Blackman said she opposed requiring masks because there’s no way to enforce it. “If you’re mandating something and you have no enforcement, what good is that?” she said.
Blackman said she has required face masks in her salon throughout the pandemic with no complaints from customers, but she said business owners should be able to make their own choice.
It doesn’t seem to matter much what we do, even if you’re vaccinated or triple vaccinated, your chances of getting it are pretty good,” she said.
The Trustees have distributed signs throughout the village and on the doors of every store saying, “’Woodstock wears masks. Masks required’ in stores and indoor public spaces in the Village of Woodstock.”
Kahn, the owner of the Unicorn gift shop, emphasized that the Trustees were careful to use the word “requirement” for masks instead of “mandate” to appear less regulatory.
Kahn said he was hesitant to approve the requirement because most people were already wearing masks.
“In my store, I’m seeing 100% compliance,” he said. “I didn’t think it would make a difference. I saw people were being responsible in our Village and were wearing masks.”
Kahn said most business owners were already requiring masks, but some were resistant to hanging the signs on their doors.
“There are a few people who are grousing about it, but they would no matter what,” he said.
Lowe, a real estate agent, approved the face mask requirement because of the rising case numbers.
“I think we all just need to do our part and should wear the masks indoors in public spaces to keep everybody as safe as possible,” she said.
Officials required all people to wear a mask in the Woodstock Town Hall and town-owned facilities, whether vaccinated or not with the surge of the Delta variant in the fall. At that time, David Green, the Woodstock health officer recommended masks be worn inside all public spaces and in outdoor public spaces.
Some business owners were already requiring customers to wear masks in their stores.
Nick Ferro, the owner of Ferro Jewelers, has required masks in his store since the fall, regardless of vaccination status.
“Nobody’s given me a hassle yet, if they do, it’s out of the store,” Ferro said in a previous interview.
Nearby towns have similar face mask policies.
Pomfret has required masks to be worn in all public spaces since Dec. 3. Hartford has had a mask mandate in place since mid-December for all public spaces.
Rutland City Council members voted down a mandate in early December, with some arguing there was no way to enforce it. City officials instead approved the purchase of 50,000 masks to make available for free in public spaces.
Killington Resort requires masks covering the nose and mouth in gondolas and indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status. The Killington Select Board discussed mandating masks in a December meeting, but made no decision.
The face mask requirement in Woodstock will be in place for 30 days, expiring Feb. 8 unless the Trustees vote to reinstate it.
“I’m hoping we’ll see a decline (in cases) at that point,” Kahn said.
All local mandates will automatically expire on April 30 under state law signed by Gov. Phil Scott.