Somerville officers distribute masks as new city ordinance goes into effect

Somerville officers distribute masks as new city ordinance goes into effect

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — The gorgeous weather had more people out and about in Somerville this weekend, and with those crowds came Somerville police officers, enforcing the city’s new ordinance on wearing a mask.

“Compliance and cooperation, that’s all we’re looking for,” said Lt. Jeff DiGregorio with the Somerville Police Department.

Somerville police officers were handing out masks to those who didn’t have them while educating the public about the new $300 fine they could face if they’re not wearing a face covering.

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“We haven’t written any, hopefully we don’t have to,” said Lt. DiGregorio.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said they’ll be understanding in certain situations, but they’re really hoping people obey the rules to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“If you’re a runner and you have it down and you see a crowd coming, you put it over your face, that’s fine. You’re making a good-faith effort,” said Mayor Curtatone. “If you’re physically able and you’re willfully refusing to cooperate, then you’re going to be subject to a ticket or a fine.”

Mayor Curtatone says his city ordinance is stricter than Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent order on wearing a mask. He says in Somerville you have to wear a mask in public whether or not you can social distance.

“The governor’s order is statewide, not every city or town is in the same density of population, geographic makeup,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We’re one of the most densely populated cities in the country, most densely populated in New England, so it’s a lot harder to socially distance in areas like this.”

But statewide, Gov. Baker’s order requires you to wear a mask if you cannot social distance.

So far Somerville city leaders say they’re impressed with the number of people who are already making this lifestyle change. And if someone doesn’t have a mask, there will be plenty to go around.

Mayor Curtatone says they’re distributing 100,000 masks and more if needed to the public, with a focus on getting those masks to the most vulnerable population.

“We want to make sure we protect everyone and we do our job to interrupt the transmission of the virus from person to person,” Curtatone said.