Mask up — or else, Gov. Charlie Baker ordered, as Mayor Martin Walsh chewed out “millennials” who have been flouting officials’ pleas to cover up to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order on Friday that demands that everyone out in public wear masks unless they can adequately social distance. The state Department of Public Health and local boards of health will be able to enforce the order — and people who violate it could face fines of up to $300.
“Covering our faces when we cannot practice social distancing is an easy, critically important and essential step that everyone should take,” Baker said in a Friday press conference. “We all believe that as part of the strategy around anything associated with reopening, people are going to need a mask or a face covering if they are going to be close to people.”
The order will go into effect on Wednesday, Baker said. Everyone outside in places where they might not to be able to maintain the suggested 6 feet of space must wear a mask — and everyone in businesses open to the public must do so. The order states that a business may decline entry to a customer who refuses to wear a mask.
The order does not apply to children under the age of 2, or people unable to wear a mask due to medical conditions.
“Everyone needs to wear a face covering for your own protection,” Baker said, adding that residents should use homemade masks and leave medical-grade masks for health care workers.
Baker noted that a “significant portion” of the population will test positive for coronavirus but never show symptoms, meaning, “it is critically important that we all accept the fact that if everyone is wearing a mask, it will dramatically reduce the opportunity for spread.”
The mayor, speaking in a separate press conference earlier, said there have been reports of unmasked people walking and running around Carson Beach in South Boston, where the percentage of positive tests has increased.
“If you’re a millennial and you don’t want to wear a mask because it doesn’t look cool — I really don’t care about that,” Walsh said. “What I want you to do is make sure you take care of the people around you and put a mask on.”
The “millennials” that Gen X-er Walsh was referring to are people in the generation that’s around 25 to 40.
After a dreary April, forecasters are predicting this first weekend of May will have temperatures up around 70 — and Walsh is warning everyone, but particularly young people, to “put a mask on” this weekend when outside.
People still should feel free to take walks, but if you go to a park and see too many people there, “We’re asking you to turn around and leave — it’s that simple,” Walsh said.
In Southie, which has an increasingly large population of well-to-do young people, 28-year-old Joe Malafronte wasn’t wearing a mask when hanging out with a friend at Carson Beach on Friday afternoon, but said, “If I have to wear a mask out, it might not be the most comfortable thing, or the most socially acceptable thing in normal times, but if it can make even the slightest bit of difference, I’m definitely on board for it.”
Kevin Wolff said he’s seen a lot of unmasked people at the beach.
“I was out here on Wednesday, and there were very, very few masks,” Wolff said. “I was a little frustrated and surprised. It was a free-for-all.”
Gabriel Santos, 37, was out running without a mask, but said he wears one when outside otherwise.
“The mask blocks my breathing. And I’m still running so far away from other people,” Santos said. Of Baker’s order, he said, “I think I can’t run fast in that situation. I will just go for a walk.”
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