Vermont business owner seeks new trial over mask mandate

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Signs tells customers about safety measures against COVID-19 that are required inside a retail store Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Dallas. Texas is lifting a COVID-19 mask mandate that was imposed last summer but has only been lightly enforced. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement Tuesday makes Texas the largest state to do away with a face covering order. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont business owner is seeking a new trial in his fight against the state’s mask mandate during the pandemic.

Andre Desautels, the owner of Derby Port Press in Newport, was sued by the state after he refused to wear masks in his store, which offers printing services and was also a pickup spot for packages. In February, United Parcel Service Inc. severed its relationship with the store, saying it refused to comply with the company’s uniform policy, which includes wearing masks.

Police and the Vermont attorney general’s office had warned him several times to comply with the emergency orders or face fines, the Caledonian-Record reported. Desautels argued that the mask mandate was unconstitutional.

Last month, a Vermont judge upheld the state’s mask mandate and a hearing on potential fines is pending.

Desautels has hired a new lawyer who filed a motion last week seeking another trial, with complaints about how Desautels’ former lawyer handled the case, the newspaper reported.

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