Commentary

AG Frey warns Mainers about enforcement of Gov. Mills’ unscientific mask mandate

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Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey used his bully pulpit this week to remind the people of Maine that they are the loyal subjects of Governor Janet Mills. Her executive orders carry the force of law during the state of emergency declared for the coronavirus pandemic, and we must follower her unscientific rules, or else.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Maine Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidance Monday to businesses and other public facing organizations detailing the enforcement options available under the governor’s mask mandate. “The guidance clearly states that the Governor’s Executive Orders have the force of law and spells out face covering requirements for individuals and establishments, including which establishments must enforce wearing of face coverings, and the potential consequences for noncompliance,” the OAG said in a public statement.

The guidance sent to businesses outlines the definition of public settings, clarifies which businesses are legally required to enforce the mask mandate, recommends working with law enforcement when individuals or establishments are in violation of the order and reminds the public that “individuals can be charged criminally for not wearing a face covering in a public setting after being warned by a law enforcement officer to do so.”

“With Thanksgiving and Black Friday approaching, it is critical that Mainers take necessary steps to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities,” Attorney General Frey said in the release. “Wearing a face covering is a simple step you can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In a public setting, wearing a face covering not only makes good sense, but is required and enforceable through licensing actions, by law enforcement, and by the Attorney General.”

The release also makes clear that businesses can deny service to individuals with a disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. “The full guidance…includes information on reasonable accommodations which can be made for people with disabilities, and notes that beyond these accommodations, during a public health emergency disability laws do not require a business to admit a customer not wearing a face covering.”

“The objective is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, not to take action against individuals for honest mistakes or minor violations,” the release says in closing. If the objective is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, why does the attorney general feel it’s necessary to issue a press release that threatens enforcement of the governor’s unscientific rules?

It’s almost as if Governor Mills can feel the people of Maine reclaiming their livelihoods from the state, and sent the attorney general out to punish us back into submission.  

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at Maine Policy Institute and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at Maine Policy. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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