Town of Paris Select Board says mask mandates violate the ADA

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 6:50 AM EST
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PARIS, Maine (WMTW) - With little discussion Monday, the town of Paris Select Board unanimously approved a resolution submitted by the newly formed local group Beacon for Sovereignty.

“It really was about the disabilities act and protecting those with medical exemptions,” said Karley Estes, the group’s founder.

Estes says their intent is narrowly focused on protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

However, the resolution also calls Gov. Mills’ December executive order requiring masks in indoor public settings unconstitutional and urges state legislators to support its immediate nullification.

“This was to protect the medical exemptions portion of the mandate that was in there so that those with disabilities can resume life,” Estes said.

Disability Rights Maine rejects the proposal.

In an email to News 8, Executive Director Kim Moody said, “People who do not know the law are using it in their interest, rather than in the interest of people with disabilities.”

“It is distressing that my fellow Mainers are using the ADA this way when we still do not have full implementation of the law,” Moody added.

Paris Town Manager Dawn Noyes believes the intent of the resolution is being mischaracterized and says mask mandates will be respected and enforced in town buildings.

“The rest of us, we suck it up and we put our mask on every day to protect everybody else. It’s those people that really truly can’t is who we want to protect,” Noyes said.

The same resolution, Estes says, has been sent to numerous Maine municipalities, aiming for it to be adopted widely.

“People would start to think about those that have been excluded from society because of their medical exemptions,” Estes said.

Disability Rights Maine, which supports Mills’ mask requirements, says most Maine businesses already successfully embrace reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, mentioning curbside pickup as one example.

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