Those who refuse to wear a face mask at the Rutland Town transfer station could face a criminal citation should they choose to continue there maskless.
On Jan. 14, the Board of Health voted unanimously to issue an order against trespass against anyone at the transfer station not wearing a mask where required.
“If you go to the transfer station and you don’t have a mask, we will ask you to wear a mask. And we have masks available if you forgot your mask. If you refuse to wear your mask, you will receive service of a notice of trespass and the next time you go to the transfer station, if you don’t have a mask on, you will be cited for trespassing,” said Health Officer John Paul Faignant, who also serves on the Select Board.
“That becomes a criminal matter at that point when you violate a trespass order,” he said. “You’re violating the law.”
According to the state Legislature’s website, a conviction or unlawful trespass can carry a penalty of not more than three months in jail and not more than a $500 fine.
Faignant said that so far, no one has been cited. It’s long been a requirement to wear a face mask at the transfer station, since Gov. Phil Scott’s executive order issued in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Faignant said the Board of Health learned some people weren’t wearing masks from regular reports received by attendants there.
“They said it’s very rare someone will come in without a mask. Most of them, the minute they’re told, immediately go get their mask because it’s just a matter of them having forgotten. But, every once in a while, there’s a straggler or two who don’t, and we need to be uniform in the application of that rule,” Faignant said.
Select Board Chairwoman Mary Ashcroft said Thursday that the no trespassing order only applies to the transfer station, though there are other places owned by the town where masks are mandated.
“We just wanted to make it clear that this is important,” she said. “We’re concerned about the safety of our attendants at the transfer station and while most people are very, very good and compliant, there were a couple who needed to be nudged so that everybody could stay safe up there.”
In Rutland Town, members of the Select Board serve as the Board of Health.