Statewide mask order takes effect

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BENNINGTON — Gov. Phil Scott's updated face mask order went into effect on Saturday, requiring all people to wear a mask or facial covering "any time it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet with others from outside their household."

The vast majority of shoppers Saturday afternoon at various Bennington businesses were wearing a mask.

Many major retailers throughout the country, including Walmart and Home Depot, have come out with strict mask requirements over the past several weeks.

These mandates, along with Scott's, give businesses the authority to refuse to serve customers who are not wearing a facial covering.

One Walmart employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said the number of shoppers entering the store without a mask has gradually declined since the early days of the pandemic. Those who attempt to enter the store are reminded of the new statewide mandate. Beyond that, the employee said there is nothing else they can do.

"I can't pursue them," the employee said.

One Walmart customer on Saturday afternoon entered the store without a mask.

The employee said the people choosing not to wear a mask can be difficult.

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"The ones who don't wear one are pretty rude," the employee said. "I don't think they realize they can infect us, and them."

'Others at risk'

Lisa Davis of Hoosick Falls said she is willing to do what is necessary so that everything can return to normal.

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"If we're going to get over this whole thing, to get back to a more routine life, yeah, I think we need to do it," Davis said about requiring masks.

Davis urged people to "use common sense" and follow the mandate.

"You're taking a risk, and you're putting everybody else at risk," Davis said.

Sue Hall, a Bennington resident, is happy to see the mandate take place, but wishes masks were required earlier.

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"It should have been done a long time ago," Hall said. "Somebody a little higher up should have done it a long time ago."

Hall said she does not find it difficult wearing a mask while in public.

Davis, who is required to wear a mask at her job, said wearing one "can be a pain at times."

Despite the fact it can be uncomfortable, Davis said "enough is enough" and wants to see everyone following Gov. Scott's order.

The Hoosick Falls native is also worried about the affect a potential second wave of the virus could have on local businesses.

"People's livelihoods are at risk," Davis said. "Do what our government says to do and we will be done and over this."

As of Aug. 1, Vermont has a cumulative total of 1,421 COVID-19 cases. Bennington County had a cumulative total of 84, including one new case. The death toll for the state is 57.


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