WINTHROP (CBS) — It’s hard to miss the warning sign when you enter the town of Winthrop that face masks are now required. The signs appear again before entering essential businesses like grocery stores. They refer to an emergency order declared by the Winthrop Town Council and Board of Health says violators could be punished by a fine of up to $1,000 under state law.
The town says everyone over the age of 5 must wear a face covering when going to stores, picking up food at restaurants and in common areas of apartment buildings. Masks are also required on public transit, taxis, ride-hailing services and at gas pumps and ATMs.
“Right now we’re trying to control the spread,” said Winthrop Police Chief Terence Delehanty. “We have 136 cases right now. We don’t want that to become any bigger. We don’t want to become a hot spot.”
Workers at essential businesses must wear masks when interacting with the public or when within six feet of coworkers. Stores are allowed to refuse service to anyone not wearing a face mask.
The mask requirement does not apply to people going out for exercise.
At Winthrop Marketplace, owner Marc Wallerce is giving customers masks if necessary to make sure they’re in compliance.
“People wanted to come in. They felt it was really tough on their face. They couldn’t breathe well. But they adapted,” he said.
Some Winthrop residents think the order goes too far.
“I think it’s outrageous right there. Make them do community service and pick up all the gloves in the parking lots,” said Steve Dailey while shopping at a local grocery store.
Winthrop police will complete spot checks to enforce the order, but Delehanty said he hopes fines end up a last resort and just act as a deterrent.
“I think when everyone really understands that what we’re trying to do is protect them and their children and the elderly in our community, they’ll voluntarily comply with this order,” he said.
And when the weather heats up, Winthrop says ice cream trucks will not be allowed to operate, but brick-and-mortar businesses can serve ice cream if they implement social distancing measures.
Winthrop isn’t the only community mandating masks with the threat of fines. Those not wearing masks in Essex could face a $300 fine, and Abington is requiring masks in essential businesses and will issue $100 fines for violations.
No matter where a fine is issued, the end fee would end up determined by a judge.