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At their meeting on Tuesday, September 22, members of the Sanford City Council voted 6-1 to close all public parks, fields, and outdoor sports facilities in the city, and to shut down all recreational programming for adults and youths. This will remain in effect until such time as Sanford High School/SRTC is no longer designated “red” by the School Department under the color-coding school reopening guidelines. The trail system remains open.

City Manager Steven Buck said the Public Safety Subcommittee had talked earlier that day about what activities might still go forward, but after the Maine CDC press briefing in the afternoon, the decision was made to recommend this action to the full Council. He referenced comments by Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine CDC, who reported the CDC is investigating two gatherings of students that occurred outside of the school setting, as possible factors in the outbreak at SHS/SRTC.

Councilor Ayn Hanselmann spoke in favor of the measure. She said the goal was to get the kids back to school, parents back to work, and businesses open.

Councilor Bob Stackpole agreed, saying “we have a responsibility to keep our children safe.” He added that if the outbreaks are not brought under control, “people are going to start dying.”

Councilor Luke Lanigan was the lone dissenting vote on the measure. He argued the mandate was not necessary, would not be enforceable, and that protecting children was the parents’ job. “We’re overstepping on this one,” he said.

“We’re doing our jobs,” responded Councilor Joe Hanslip. He addressed his comments to those who claim that Covid-19 safety measures impinge on their civil liberties. “You can exercise your rights up until the time that it negatively affects the rights of others.”

Mayor Tom Cote said “We can contribute to the problem or we can contribute to the solution. Right now the solution is kids not meeting in groups.”

In response to Councilor Lanigan’s concerns, Police Chief Thomas Connolly stated the Department would do its best to enforce the measure. “We have the same interests as everybody else,” he said.

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