In this July 24, 2020, file photo, Becky Eliastam window shops on Main Street, in Brattleboro, Vermont. Credit: Kristopher Radder / The Brattleboro Reformer via AP

NEWPORT, Vermont — A Vermont business owner is in court arguing the state’s mandate that people wear masks in his store to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is unconstitutional.

Andre Desautels, the owner of Derby Port Press in Newport, was sued by the state after he refused to wear masks in his store.

Last month, 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.

The Caledonian-Record reported that during a Tuesday court hearing, Assistant Attorney General Rachel Smith said Desautels admits he has not worn a mask since Gov. Phil Scott issued the mandate last year, he still isn’t wearing one and he has no intent of doing.

“We ask that the court to find the defendant liable for violations of the emergency management statute and the governor’s executive orders and enjoin the defendant from further violations,” she said.

Desautels’ attorney, Deborah Bucknam, described the governor’s orders under his emergency management authority as “fairly draconian.”

“The state has utterly failed to prove that there is any basis for a [continued] wearing of masks in the state,” she said.

A ruling from Judge Mary Miles Teachout is expected soon.