Covidiots don’t comply with mask orders, leaving officials, public frustrated

It’s the moment where you’re not quite sure of what to do. Someone is standing in line outside of a restaurant, or walks into an elevator next to you, mask down around their chin, or, in some cases, it’s defiantly not present at all.

Some of these people don’t comply with Gov. Charlie Baker’s mask as a political statement, with the question of whether to mask or not becoming yet another front in the country’s partisan divide. Some dismiss scientific evidence of the face coverings’ proven effectiveness. Others just don’t care.

The Boston Globe’s Beth Teitell calls them “mask holes.” In a morning email newsletter, Greg Reibman of the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber dubbed them “covidiots.”

As Teitell writes, the mask rebellion is an issue at restaurants, where workers come in close contact with customers and owners are hoping to get in as much business in case of a second wave of COVID-19 shutdowns shuttering their doors.

“I see grown-ups, with a kind of smirking defiance, walk maskless through our restaurant, or dangle their masks under their chin or below their noses, or not bother with them at all,” chef Jody Adams wrote in what Teitell says is an as-yet unpublished op-ed.

“We again have had a nasty visit from a ‘refuse-to-wear-a-mask’ person,” Judy Herrell, the owner of Herrell’s Ice Cream & Sweet Bakery in Northampton, wrote on Facebook on July 4.

“His partner wore a 1/2 mask below her nose,” the post continued. “She was asked not to eat in the store. He wasn’t served and asked to put on a mask or leave.‘’ A string of swears followed.

The nation’s top retail and restaurant chains are saying enough is enough, and that government needs to step in to enforce a nationwide mask mandate. This comes as states like Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California see rapidly increasing rates of COVID-19.

Massachusetts currently has a  low infection rate. But there are concerns that visitors or careless residents will cause that to spike again.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh warned against a second wave Tuesday, saying the US “is in the worst place it’s ever been in dealing with the pandemic.”

“The California governor yesterday had to shut down indoor businesses for the second time,” Walsh said during his coronavirus update. “It’s a tough blow to that state’s economy, but no doubt a necessary and important step. There’s even worse situations we’re seeing coming out of hospitals in Florida and Texas and Arizona and other places in the country, quite honestly.”

Elected officials are seeking to ensure measures are taken to prevent a resurgence of the virus in Massachusetts. A new bill filed by state Reps. Mindy Domb and Jon Santiago, (who is an emergency room physician), would make wearing face masks mandatory for most residents and ratchet up workplace safety standards at businesses.

The mask requirement would remain in effect through the end of the governor’s state of emergency declaration. Baker’s mask order, issued in May, has a non-compliance fine of $300 that has barely been enforced. Domb’s bill would give extra funds to local boards of health for enforcement purposes.

In May, Worcester police were handing out masks to violators instead of citations, according to NBC10 Boston. The only significant leveling of fines seems to have occurred in Holbrook, also in May, where the board of health issued $3,300 in fines to people who violated the mask mandate, with the possibility of appeal. Since then, the fine issue seems to have disappeared from headlines.

Domb and Santiago’s bill would also require a two-week quarantine for most people traveling to Massachusetts from coronavirus hotspots, defined as a state with a continuous COVID-19 positivity rate of 5 percent or higher for seven days. Violators would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000, to be enforced by local boards of health.

SARAH BETANCOURT


FROM COMMONWEALTH

The Trump administration dropped its order banning foreign students from being in the US this fall if they are enrolled at a college or university offering only online courses.

Attorney General Maura Healey filed suit against Uber and Lyft, arguing the ride-hailing companies are illegally classifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Boston businesses that rent space from the city or the Boston Planning & Development Agency, or operate on property owned by the development agency, are getting breaks on their rent because of the pandemic shutdown of commerce.


FROM AROUND THE WEB

BEACON HILL

Police unions are condemning the law enforcement reform bill passed by the Senate during a marathon overnight session. (Boston Globe) Firefighters’ unions are also criticizing the bill. (Eagle-Tribune)

Some business leaders are gearing up to oppose language in a Senate transportation bond bill that would allow regions of the state to raise money by passing local ballot initiatives earmarking funding for regional transit projects. (Boston Globe)

A bill proposed by a group of lawmakers would mandate the wearing of face coverings and require travelers to quarantine for two weeks — and would make violating both orders punishable by fines. (Associated Press)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Massachusetts food banks brace for a surge of needs when the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit expires at the end of July. (WBUR)

DigBoston focuses on police reform, Black Lives Matter, and racial divides in the suburbs in a series of stories.

Here’s your feel-good story of the day. Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, while vacationing on Cape Cod, stepped in at the last minute to perform the wedding ceremony of physicians Matt Kalliath and Naomi Kalliath. (Cape Cod Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A coronavirus vaccine developed by Cambridge biotech company Moderna is showing promising early results in prompting an immune response against the virus. (STAT)

A proposed bill would require 911 dispatchers to receive training in CPR so they know how to advise callers. (Telegram & Gazette)

Former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home administrators say a bill introduced by Gov. Charlie Baker to reform the home should be more focused on outreach to veterans, families and staff. (MassLive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Trump administration is moving to cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of the system for collecting data on coronavirus cases, raising alarms among public health experts. (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, won yesterday’s Democratic US Senate primary and will face Republican Sen. Susan Collins this fall in a pivotal contest that could determine control of the Senate. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has received more than 900 complaints from workers about businesses failing to take proper COVID-19 precautions. (Boston Business Journal)

In Barnstable, a vote on short-term rentals is delayed. (Cape Cod Times)

Barely any business: Massachusetts’ two nudist resorts have opened but are getting fewer visitors than usual. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

State education leaders are urging school districts to “prioritize in-person instruction” for the fall, but hold off until August any announcement on specific plans. (Boston Globe)

New Bedford school committee vice chair Christopher Cotter rebuked fellow members for wanting to examine the district’s student resource officer program. (Standard-Times)

The Grafton School Committee votes to ditch the district’s Indian mascot, in response to opposition from students and a local Native American tribe. (Telegram & Gazette)

Teachers unions are asking for a phased reopening of schools. (MassLive)

The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, a controversial special education residential school best known for protests over its use of electric shock devices, is among the schools receiving state grants to cover COVID-19 costs. (MassLive)

ARTS/CULTURE

The Institute of Contemporary Art reopened — and the first visitors were thrilled. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Critics say the state plans for reworking a stretch of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Allston are too car-centric. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

President Trump will announce today a weakening of one of the country’s primary conservation laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, as part of a bid to speed the permitting of freeways, power plants and energy pipelines. (New York Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed financial records from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. (MassLive)

MEDIA

MassINC Polling Group’s long partnership with WBUR-FM is ending, says MPG president Steve Koczela.

Centrist commentary writer Bari Weiss resigns from the New York Times opinion section and posts a scathing critique of the groupthink and fear of contrarian views that she says now infect the paper and limit its range of news coverage and opinion offers.

Press and political freedom weigh into whether people avoid the news. (Nieman Lab)