BOSTON (CBS) — Calling it part of “the new normal”, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that everybody in the state will have to wear a face mask or covering while in public. The new emergency order, which goes into effect on May 6, is the state’s latest step to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“I signed an executive order requiring residents to use a face covering in public places when they cannot socially distance from others,” said Baker. “As we continue to think about the future and a return to a new normal, covering our faces when we cannot practice social distancing is an easy, critically important, and essential step that everyone can and should take to stop or slow the spread.”
The order does not apply to children under the age of two or to people who are unable to wear a face mask or face covering due to medical conditions.
It does apply to all workers and patrons of businesses which are open to the public, and anyone on public transportation. Baker said he would leave fines and enforcement up to individual cities and towns.
“As infectious disease specialists continue to learn more about COVID-19, it’s clear that this virus is highly contagious, and can be spread from person to person without symptoms,” Baker said. “A significant portion of the people who actually carry the COVID-19 virus never show any symptoms at all, but they are in fact contagious.”
As of Thursday, Massachusetts has 62,205 cases of coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases appears to be plateauing, Baker said earlier this week.
Non-essential businesses have been ordered to stay closed until May 18. The governor has said reopening the state will occur in phases.
Wearing masks will be one component of the process to reopen: “We view this as common sense and an important way on a statewide basis to establish, for the long term, a set of standards for what we would call’ the new normal,'” Baker said.
“This is going to be basically a way of life, okay? There’s no ifs, no ands, no buts, no doubts. And I certainly think that, for the most part, if you can’t distance inside or outside you’re going to be expected to wear a face covering or a mask.”