CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Nashua’s face-covering ordinance and the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency because of the coronavirus will stand while they’re being challenged in court, a judge ruled Monday.
Andrew Cooper, a Nashua resident, had filed a request for a preliminary injunction as part of his lawsuit seeing to end Gov. Chris Sununu’s emergency declaration and the city’s rules requiring members of the public ages 10 and older to wear face masks when entering any business, work site or government building.
He argued that Sununu lacked the authority to make the declaration because “there is no ‘emergency’ in New Hampshire,” a claim that Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Jacalyn Colburn said defied common sense.
“As anyone not living in a cave for the past few months would now, the State, the Country, and the entire world are in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic event,” she wrote in denying the motion.
The judge was equally blunt in rejecting Cooper’s claim that the mask ordinance infringes on his freedom of speech. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court established more than a century ago that actions taken in response to a public health emergency should be upheld as long as they have a substantial relation to public health and safety and do not constitute a “plain, palpable invasion of rights.”
“Here, it is plain-as-day that the ordinance bears a substantial relation to public health and safety,” she wrote. “It seems common sense — to everyone except the plaintiff, his attorney, and his expert — that requiring individuals to cover their faces while indoors will help reduce the transmission of a highly contagious virus that is spread through the air.”
(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)