Somerville announced this morning that everybody 2 or older in Somerville will have to wear a mask “at all times in public” starting Wednesday. People will have a week’s grace period to find a mask; after that, they could be subject to a stern talking to by police or a fine of up to $300.
Mayor Joe Curtatone and the Board of Health, who announced the new requirement, say it applies to both outdoor spaces and to “indoor public spaces like stores or the shared entrances of multi-unit homes.” And, they emphasize, there are no exceptions for joggers and bicyclists.
The Police are committed to compassionate policing, and will seek first to educate members of the public about the face covering requirement wherever possible. As available, Officers will also carry masks to give to our most vulnerable residents such as persons experiencing homelessness or persons living with mental illness. However, after the one-week grace period, persons showing willful disregard, may be subject to a written warning or a $300 fine. Exceptions will be made for persons unable to medically tolerate a face covering.
In a robo-message to residents, Curtatone added:
I understand that this step may feel strange or burdensome. But this is necessary to help stop transmission of this disease. Not everyone who has COVID-19 shows symptoms. You can be carrying the virus and infecting others without knowing. No one wants to be the one who infected the grocery store clerk, or the bus driver, or the family out for a stroll. Wearing a face covering is one way to avoid that.
An appropriate face covering is clean and covers your nose and mouth. In a pinch, a scarf, bandana, or any clean cloth will do. You can also find information on making your own face covering under the “Prevention and Preparation” section of somervillema.gov/coronavirus.
Again, this order applies to indoor public spaces like stores or the shared entrances of multi-unit homes. It also applies to outdoor areas such as sidewalks, streets, paths, and squares. All persons including joggers and cyclists must comply.
Please remember that it is up to the Somerville Police Department, not residents, to enforce this order. The police are committed to compassionate policing and will aim to first educate violators and issue warnings. However, persons who willfully refuse to comply may be subject to a $300 fine.
Exceptions will be made for persons with certain medical conditions, and we certainly understand that some may struggle to comply, such as persons living with a mental illness or parents trying to keep masks on young children. Understanding will be shown in such cases.
More information can be found at somervillema.gov.
Thank you, Somerville. Together, we will get through this.