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Mask Ordinance FAQ

Keene COVID-19 Face Coverings Ordinance

The Keene City Council passed Ordinance O-2021-16-B (click link to read in full) on December 16, 2021, requiring the wearing of face coverings in indoor public spaces.  A list of common questions and answers is included below and may be updated periodically.  Please read the full ordinance to get a complete understanding of all of the requirements.  Also, please refer to the State of NH COVID-19 resources for additional guidance for businesses and residents.

Thank you for helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for helping to keep Keene open for business.

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  1. If I’m just walking down the sidewalk, am I required to wear a mask?  No, this Ordinance applies only to certain indoor, public spaces. 
  2. Where specifically are masks required?  Masks must be worn in any interior space which is generally open to the public without charge and into which the public is invited for the purpose of conducting any business customarily provided to the public by the business.
  3. What about spaces not open to the public?  Employees are not required to wear masks in spaces not open to the public, such as kitchens, for example.
  4. Is this just in downtown Keene? No – the ordinance applies to all of Keene.
  5. Who is responsible, businesses or members of the public? Both.  Businesses are required to notify employees and the public of the mask requirement and are to deny entry and/or services to any person who declines to wear a mask.  Businesses must also require employees to wear a mask at all times when interacting with the public, unless a barrier provides sufficient separation.   Members of the public who decline to wear a face covering shall be denied entry to and/or services provided by the business.
  6. Are there penalties for non-compliance for members of the public? Yes.  Any member of the public who declines to wear a face covering will be given a verbal warning for a first offense; a written warning for a second offense; a fine of $100 for any third offense; and a fine of $250 for any fourth or subsequent offense. 
  7. Are there penalties for non-compliance for businesses?  Yes.  City Code section 1-15 (a) covers the general penalty for violation of City Code including written notices and fines up to $1,000.
  8. Do my children have to wear masks? Only children age 10 and up are included in this ordinance, however, it may also be advisable for children over the age of 2 to wear appropriate face coverings subject to parental guidance and CDC guidelines.
  9. What about restaurants?  Restaurant customers are not required to wear masks when seated.
  10. Are any businesses exempt? Spaces that are not open to the public free-of-charge as well as houses of worship and home occupations or businesses located entirely within a private residence are excluded from mask-wearing requirements.
  11. What about people with disabilities? A mask is not required for any person with a medical or developmental condition for whom the wearing of a mask would pose a threat to their health or safety.
  12. How is this different from the Keene Safe pledge?  Businesses that take the Keene Safe pledge (www.keenesafe.com) agree to more than enforcing the wearing of masks.  The pledge also includes social distancing, hand sanitizer, cleaning and disinfection, and on-site working requirements consistent with State of NH and CDC guidelines.
  13. What if someone refuses to wear a mask at my business and refuses to leave after being denied service? Call the Keene Police Department: (603) 357-9813.
  14. When does this requirement expire? The Ordinance will be reviewed for termination at least every 60 days by the City Council.
  15. Who do I contact if I have a question about the requirement to wear masks? Email publichealth@keenenh.gov.  Emails will be processed on business weekdays during business hours.
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