From Mayor Kate Snyder, Portland, Maine <[email protected]>
Subject Checking In. Early January 2022.
Date January 6, 2022 4:45 PM
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Mask Requirement In Effect_end to the local State of Emergency

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January 6, 2022

Dear Portlanders,

I have a feeling I'll be emailing a little more frequently as we make our way through 2022. There's so much going on - and I want to use email as a way to directly communicate with you. You can opt out, of course. Just scroll to the bottom to Unsubscribe if you'd like.
In addition to email communication - I offer a Monthly Zoom Meeting that is agenda-free, and simply a chance to talk, engage, ask questions. I typically publish that date and time halfway through the month, and the Zoom almost always takes place within the last 10 days of the month.
In addition to emails and Zooms, please consider attending Council meetings and Council Committee meetings to learn about what's going on - and to lend your voice.

An early January update.....

At the first meeting of the new year, the City Council took action to repeal the local State of Emergency (SOE). Since August, Portland's local SOE only contained language regarding remote meetings.
The SOE remained in place as the Council as well as City of Portland Boards and Commissions (think Planning Board, Parks Commission, etc, etc.) worked to adopt remote meeting policies compliant with new state law, great explanation here ([link removed]) .
The local SOE language in place actually required remote meetings only - and while it made sense at the time, and was kept in place through the Delta wave, it started to be clear that meeting remotely with no other option was too restrictive.
Case in point: after the wave of the Delta variant, and before Omicron, there were several requests to get back in person for the December Inaugural Meeting. The only way to do this was to repeal the SOE, which again, only remained in place with language governing meetings preventing in person meetings.
In response to requests, city staff recommended a December repeal of the SOE and reliance on our Local Remote Meeting Policy to determine in person or remote on a case by case basis. The decision was postponed by the Council on 12/20 and taken up on 1/3. This past Monday, the SOE was repealed 8-1, and the repeal will be fully effective on 1/13.
I understand that many in the community are frustrated and upset by the repeal, as its persistence would trigger a 1.5x hazard pay provision directed by a Citizen Initiative adopted by voters in 2020. However, retention of a local SOE to govern meetings does not, in my view, make sense or comply with the legal intent of stated emergency. (All this said, the 1.5x pay provision is in effect 1/1-1/13.)

Also on January 3rd, the Council adopted a Local Mask Requirement. Face Covering Mandate ([link removed]) .
This response to the ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis will be in effect for 30 days, or until the next Council meeting (in this case, Feb 7th) - at which time the Council must reconsider, and either vote to rescind or extend.
I will note - this policy does seek to represent compromise in that it offers exception in the case of proof of vaccination (see 17-140 (c)).
I'll also note that in response to stated emergencies, practical and procedural responses to the emergency appropriately live in policy, like this amendment to the Portland City Code (Chapter 17).

Whether we're talking SOE or Required Masking (or instead, proof of vax) - this is not conflict-free decision making. In both cases - there is support and there is opposition. And, as a nation, state and local community, we continue to work to navigate through many unprecedented challenges, with near constant change to guidance, data and considerations.

Personal observation....

When I first started to serve on the School Board, back in 2007, I learned this fundamental and important aspect of serving on an elected body: Decisions made by the elected body are to be owned by the body. Decisions (votes) reflect the body's work. and they are the product of joint work and representative democracy. In the case of the Mask Requirement - the Council vote was unanimous. And, the repeal of the SOE was 8-1. No one person is to blame for policy, or to be targeted for its implementation. Together we own our decisions, we support the outcome, and for sure - if someone wants to seek future amendment or repeal, that's an option. We are a body of nine elected officials, seeking to make responsible and responsive public policy during very challenging and changing days. Thank you for your emails, public comment, calls, etc. Your voice is important - and I can assure you that we are all working hard to arrive at balanced decisions.

OK - onto the practical...

City staff has ordered surgical masks to distribute to local businesses who need them for when members of the public show up without one.
Masks will be available to pick up at City Hall, via the Myrtle Street entrance, on Thursday, January 6 between 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM, as well as on Tuesday, January 11 at the same location and time.
Window decals will not be available during the January 6 distribution, but will be available for the January 11 distribution.
On Wednesday, January 12, from 10 AM - 4 PM, Public Health staff will host a pop-up at 39 Forest Avenue in which they will have mask supplies and window decals as well as offering vaccines and boosters available with no appointment. People can also call 207-874-8982 to make an appointment if they prefer.
The City has also updated its posters and signage, and businesses are able to download digital versions from the ([link removed]) website.
Lastly, a Frequently Asked Questions document regarding the mask mandate ordinance has been added to the City’s website and can be found by visiting

Thank you for was pointed out to me during the 2019 campaign, I tend to think in paragraphs. And - I talk in paragraphs. All of this work, all of the issues - it's complex.
I write these emails to offer information, resources, and I hope, connection to the work. Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated.


Kate Merchant Snyder

Please see below for general information regarding access to City Updates, and City Council work:

City Council Meetings:
The Portland City Council meets the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month. In the case of a Monday holiday, we typically meet the next Wednesday. In the case of school vacation weeks, we typically push the meeting by a week.Agendas and Info, go here. ([link removed])

The next City Council meeting is Wednesday, January 19th at 5pm. (Wednmesday, because of the Monday holiday.)

Council Workshops: PleaseCheck in here to see all upcoming meetings. ([link removed])

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If you’re generally curious about City updates and news - pleaseclick here ([link removed]) to subscribe to the ‘City News’ group. You can also go to that page to click on the latest weekly update - and look back through the news, too. The weekly compile has everything from Council decisions to construction updates to news about things happening around town. It’s a fantastic, concise, easy to read resource.

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Mayor Kate Snyder . 389 Congress St . Portland, ME 04101-3566 . USA

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