Baker issues new order on face coverings
Allows some discretion, but requires use on transit, at businesses
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER issued an executive order on Friday directing Massachusetts residents to wear face masks in stores, on public transit, and in public places – anywhere it might be difficult to maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from others.
Baker, who has been somewhat slow in embracing face masks, was following the lead of a number of municipal officials who have issued their own orders requiring residents to wear face masks and even imposed fines for noncompliance. The governor’s order takes effect on Wednesday.
“We view this as common sense,” Baker said at a State House press conference. “Everyone doing a small thing all the time can go a long way to improve everyone else’s ability to avoid the virus.”
The governor’s order builds on a guidance he issued on April 10, which in turn built on a new guidance issued previously by the US Centers for Disease Control. Baker has since fully embraced the idea of wearing masks, both to protect the wearer and anyone the wearer comes in contact with.
For example, he said, someone running by his house in Swampscott at 5:30 a.m. is not likely to run into anyone so could probably run without a mask. But he said someone running at 5:30 p.m. is likely to see a lot more people and should wear a mask.
He said when he and his wife take a walk they either wear their masks or take the masks with them in case they meet someone.
Baker said enforcement of the order would be left primarily to local officials, but he said State Police could provide assistance. The governor’s order says violations of his order may result in a civil fine of $300 per violation.
The order applies to anyone using taxi, car, livery, or ride-sharing services as well as any public transit service or any “enclosed transit stop or waiting area.”
On the MBTA, where many but not all riders wear masks already, spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the agency is exploring its enforcement options.“The MBTA expects all customers and employees to comply with the governor’s directive mandating face coverings. We are evaluating what steps the MBTA can take to insure that this important directive is followed,” he said in an email.
The order says business owners can refuse entry to customers who refuse to wear masks.