Mask up, Massachusetts: The rules and penalties in Bay State communities

The statewide order requiring face coverings in public goes into effect May 6. Some cities and towns already have ordinances in place — and fines for noncompliance.

Order requiring face coverings in public spaces goes into effect in Massachusetts

BOSTON — This summer, sunglasses aren’t the only thing you’ll be wearing on your face.

Starting Wednesday, May 6, people over the age of two across Massachusetts must wear face masks while out in public when social distancing isn’t possible. People with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing masks are exempt from this order.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s May 1 executive order mandates that people must wear masks in grocery stores, pharmacies, and on public buses and trains. If a customer refuses to wear a mask or cloth face-covering, businesses have the authority to deny that person’s entry.

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The governor’s order only requires people to wear face masks outside when they can’t stay 6 feet away from others, but some cities and towns are taking things a step further.

In Somerville, people must always wear a face mask in public, even when social distancing is possible.

Mayor Joe Curtatone said it’s necessary to expand on the governor’s order in his city. “We are a very densely populated city, the most densely populated in New England, one of the most densely populated in the country,” said Curtatone. “So it is necessary.”

People who don’t comply with the governor’s executive order face a civil fine up to $300, though Baker said he’s leaving enforcement up to individual cities and towns.

Several communities, including Somerville, are already threatening to fine people up to $300 for not wearing masks, including Cambridge, Essex, Everett, Lawrence, Salem, and Watertown.

A couple of communities are going even further: Peabody and Winthrop are threatening fines up to $1,000.

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