City of Portsmouth Issues Public Health Directive on Face Coverings
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PORTSMOUTH–Portsmouth City Manager Karen Conard (on Friday, Jan. 7) has issued the following statement to the City Council:
“At the request of the health officer, I am authorizing the issuance of the attached Public Health Directive [below] which takes effect immediately.
Given the current metrics relative to percent positivity and hospitalization utilization due to COVID, the health officer has determined that in order to protect the public health, proper face coverings must be used in all publicly accessible indoor areas and places of employment.
When the rates of infection and hospitalization no longer present a public health risk, this directive will be rescinded.”
The City of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Health Department issue this Public Health Directive in order to minimize the threat to public health posed by the spread of highly infectious Covid-19. Accordingly, effective Jan. 7, 2022 all persons over the age of 5 within the City of Portsmouth are directed to wear proper face coverings, covering their nose and mouth:
1. In all publicly accessible indoor areas; and
2. In all indoor places of employment shared by two (2) or more non-same household employees, when employees are not working in separate offices/areas.
Face coverings are any tightly woven cloth or other material which substantially complies with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended guidance for masks and includes surgical masks, and N95s, without holes or an exhalation valve.
A publicly accessible building or area is any building that is regularly accessible to the general public, or specific areas of a building open to the public and includes modes of public transportation. All such facilities shall post the requirement for a face covering.
Masks for children under 5 years old will be left to the discretion of their parents. This order does not apply to private homes or residential units; public or private schools, patrons in indoor swimming pools, music students, vaccinated performers in public venues, or gymnasiums that have instituted other mitigation measures such as vaccination requirements, physical distancing or enhanced ventilation systems, and athletes actively participating in athletic arenas.
A face covering is not required for any person with a medical or developmental condition to whom the wearing of a face covering would pose a threat to their health or safety, including anxiety. The individual shall not be required to produce documentation or other evidence to verify such conditions.
Members of the public entering any restaurant or alcohol-serving business for the purpose of picking up food for take-out or any other purpose must wear a face covering. Members of the public dining at a restaurant may remove masks while seated at their table, but must wear a mask when entering, exiting or moving about indoors.
This directive is issued pursuant to the statutory authority of the undersigned, including but not limited to RSA 147:1, and the duty and authority of the undersigned to take actions necessary to protect the public health.” Signed by Portsmouth Public Health Officer Kim McNamara and dated Jan. 7, 2022.
 RSA 147:1 reads as follows:
I. The health officers of towns may make regulations for the prevention and removal of nuisances, and such other regulations relating to the public health as in their judgment the health and safety of the people require, which shall take effect when approved by the selectmen, recorded by the town clerk, and published in some newspaper printed in the town, or when copies thereof have been posted in two or more public places in the town.
Note: This directive is authorized by the Portsmouth city manager, which is the analogous position in Portsmouth to “the selectmen” referenced in the statute.