People walk past restaurants in an almost empty Monument Square in downtown Portland in February. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine  — Some restaurateurs in Maine’s largest city are pressing for a vaccine mandate as the omicron variant fuels COVID-19 infections.

The restaurant group Big Tree Hospitality launched a petition drive with other restaurants asking the Portland City Council to consider a vaccine mandate for certain indoor spaces including restaurants.

“We believe that such a mandate is in the best interests of both the public health and the workers of businesses that are dependent on serving the public in settings that necessitate the gathering of people and often the removal of masks,” the petition says.

Big Tree co-owner Andrew Taylor  told the Portland Press Herald  that he’s trying to present the petition to the City Council before its next meeting.

“Our restaurant group, and I know many restaurants feel this way, that mask mandates are kind of futile in restaurants” because people take off their masks to eat and drink, Taylors said.

The Council on Monday will consider a proposal for an indoor mask mandate in public buildings as well as whether to retain an emergency order that has allowed it to meet remotely during the pandemic.