No masks at Richmond meetings prompts AG email

Richmond town officials say they can safely meet without masks despite a complaint to the New Hampshire Attorney Federal’s Office. 

RICHMOND — The lack of mask-wearing at the Board of Selectmen’s meetings prompted Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards to contact officials.

Edwards contacted Town Administrator Susan Harrington about the issue late last week after she received a complaint from a resident.

“We don’t wear (masks) at our regular meetings as long as we can maintain six feet of distance, said Chair William Daniels.

The town does not offer a video conference option for residents to take part in board meetings remotely, as many towns have done in reaction to the pandemic restrictions.

According to Gov. Chris Sununu’s Emergency Order 74, face masks must be worn in public spaces where six feet of distance can not be maintained.

Edwards’ email offered to go over the order with Harrington.

According to Harrington, the current board meetings meet the emergency order.

The set up has six feet of distance for the board members, staff, and anyone who has an appointment before the board, according to Harrington.

The town’s health officer has reviewed the meeting room’s set up, said Harrington. The town also makes masks and hand sanitizer available for members of the public at the meetings.

Daniels said the town is now looking at being able to offer video feeds of the meetings. He said he had heard some complaints from residents about the lack of a video streaming option.

“There are a few hoping that they can Zoom, and we are going to go for that,” he said.

Sununu put the statewide mask mandate into effect in November as the cases of COVID-19 rose.

The order states that everyone over the age of 5 must wear a face mask over their mouth and nose when out in public when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. New Hampshire was the last state in New England enact a mask mandate.

Richmond is a rural community close to the Massachusetts border. It had 1,155 residents recorded during the 2010 census.

Daniels said the town’s usually well attended annual town meeting may be moved this year out of the Veterans’ Memorial Hall to a location that allows for more distancing. The board is looking at different options for the meeting.

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