Businesses and the impact of new mask guidance

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Vaccinated people will no longer have to wear masks in many outdoor and indoor environments beginning one week from today in Maine. Those who are not vaccinated are still expected to wear masks, but businesses have been left to police who does and doesn’t need a mask.

With that in mind, Attorney Luke Rossignol says businesses must make a decision.

“I don’t believe that the government can really make these things a full-blown mandate,” Rossignol says. “I think that’s why the government is not doing that. It’s sort of putting it on the private parties and private businesses to sort of make that decision on how they are going to implement this and what they’re going to require or not require.”

When it comes to vaccination status, Rossignol says that may be difficult to determine.

“I don’t believe anybody can force another person to give up their private medical information,” Rossignol adds. “That to me is protected under HIPAA and a bunch of other medical, privacy related type laws. Where this question becomes more interesting is you’re raising potential issues of discrimination and it starts to raise issues about other types of protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

He adds, businesses do reserve the right to deny service to a customer not following guidelines.

“They tell the person in a proper way, you know you’re not complying with what has to happen on our property, therefore you’re going to have to leave the property. If the person or patron does not leave the property, then they could be considered trespassing,” he says. “If law enforcement tells them to leave the property and they don’t leave the property it could be considered criminal trespassing and they could be arrested and removed.”

As for laws protecting businesses, Rossignol says, “I think the property owner would be protected under existing law in terms of what governs their property rights. But also I think they’d have extra protections based on the fact that you have local or state, federal government entities telling them about these mandates or these requirements.”

The state of Maine will adopt CDC guidance of mask wearing on May 24, 2021.

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