PARIS — The anti-mask fervor reached the town of Paris on Monday as its Select Board unanimously passed a resolution opposing Gov. Janet Mills’ executive orders on face coverings because they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The resolution was offered to the board by the group Beacon for Sovereignty, based in Paris, a coalition that supports the constitutional rights of Maine residents.
Called the Americans with Disabilities Act Preservation Resolution, the document resolves to “serve as a notice and demand to the state government to cease and desist any and all activities, acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations in violation of the Constitution of the United States and the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
It also calls on the Select Board to support immediate nullification of the governor’s Executive Order 19 FY 2020-21, which mandates the wearing of face coverings, and does not allow for an exception for individuals with disabilities.
The Select Board passed the resolution with little discussion, with all five members — Chairman Rusty Brackett, Christopher Summers, Peter Kilgore, Carlton Sprague and Scott McElravy — publicly stating their support.
At least one other Maine community — Steuben in Washington County — has passed the resolution.
The ADA prohibits the discrimination against people with disabilities. It became law in 1990.
Individuals who oppose the mandated wearing of masks while in public places to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have often cited the lack of exemptions for people with disabilities, specifying examples like an inability to breathe or psychological trauma.
Disability Rights Maine, an advocacy group for the disabled, supports the governor’s mandates.
“We know that the vast majority of Maine people with disabilities wear face coverings when in the community because it is safer and it is smart,” Kim Moody, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “And we want others to do the same, because many of us have compromised immune systems or are otherwise in high-risk categories.”
“We reject recent attempts to misappropriate our identities and misuse important and hard-fought civil rights protections as a form of misguided civil disobedience,” she added.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Department of Human Services say face masks are highly effective in combating the spread of the virus.
According to a statement from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, “The scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of wearing masks to limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear and well established in the U.S. and globally. Based on this evidence, the U.S. CDC has called on Americans to wear masks as a powerful weapon to slow transmission of the virus, protect their communities, and get back to normal faster.”
All Select Board members were wearing masks Monday night.
In other business Monday, the board set the date for the town meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, June 21, at the fire station. The board also received an overview of the highway budget, which is roughly 7% lower than last year because mowing was moved to the parks and recreation budget. The town is hoping to contract the mowing to a third party.
Town Manager Dawn Noyes reported that the town received a Stream Crossing Public Infrastructure Improvement grant of $125,000 for Parsons Road from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Funds will be used to replace a culvert and for habitat creation. The project will start in 2022.
The board accepted the name Chevy Drive for a private road located off Jackson Crossing.