Board of Health Considering Requiring COVID-19 Face Masks in Watertown

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Watertown’s Board of Health will meet Thursday afternoon to discuss whether to require that people wear face masks in public places in town.

The meeting will meet on April 30 at 3 p.m. via Zoom meeting, which the public can join. The lone agenda item reads: Consider and affirm order requiring wearing of face masks in public to contain spread of
COVID 19 Virus.

Watertown would join other communities requiring people to wear face coverings while out in public. Somerville and Cambridge passed orders requiring people to wear a face mask in public places. After a one-week grace period, Somerville can begin fining people up to $300. Cambridge started requiring face masks, too, for anyone age 5 or older, according to WBUR.

In Somerville, the order applies to anyone older than 2, and applies to any public indoor or outdoor space, including restaurant pickup zones, parks, sidewalks and parking lots, WBUR reported, and bikers and runners must also wear masks.

On the North Shore, Peabody, Salem, Beverly and Swampscott require that people wear face coverings or masks when going into business deemed essential during the COVID-19 outbreak, such as a grocery store, according to The Salem News. Peabody has a stiff penalty, with fines up to $1,000.

Joining the Board of Health Meeting

The public can watch and participate in the Board of Health meeting, which will be held via the Zoom app (click here for more info about Zoom). The meeting begins at 3 p.m. on Thursday, and the link is: (Meeting ID: 976 5283 8740).

32 thoughts on “Board of Health Considering Requiring COVID-19 Face Masks in Watertown

  1. Inside a building or enclosed structure, sure. Outside, this is positively ridiculous if we responsibly practice social distancing. Let’s not automatically lineup behind the People’s Republic and wacko Curtatone and go overboard on this!

    • Totally agree with you Fred. People can’t be trusted to practice social distancing, even though Massachusetts is at the top of the list of states who effectively practice social distancing. People need a police state environment to feel safe. Well, some people.

  2. Why wouldn’t we do anything we can to reduce the spread in a town that is located in a county with the most cases and deaths. Virus droplets can carry more than 4 meters from someone walking, running, riding a bike. The paths along the Charles river for example aren’t that wide and the side walks aren’t either.

  3. I already have been wearing masks in stores, but when I exit the store and walk to my car I take it off. I agree if people are walking together masks should be worn and social distancing should be observed! But if someone is riding their bike or jogging or running alone I don’t think they should be required to wear masks.
    I agree with the fines for people not complying with the masks inside stores just like the “no shoes, no shirts, no service” that should include no mask no service.
    I have noticed in the past week or so that Watertown has been doing a pretty good job of wearing their masks.
    Let’s see what they decide but my guess is Watertown will follow suit!

  4. I don’t think masks should be required outside while walking, biking etc. At some point restrictions are going to be lifted; this could be a small step in that direction.

  5. Definitely we should wear them from the moment you leave your home until you return. Only way to contain the virus. Just saw people in BJs in Waltham not wearing them – mostly men – guess it’s too unmacho to wear one!

  6. I agree with Mary. Not outside walking, biking or running. Social distancing yes. In public indoor places 100% absolutely.
    I see lots of people in Watertown who are very responsible wearing masks, and social distancing. However, every where I go, there are gloves and masks on the ground……..

  7. I think they should always be required. I have seen SO many people, especially young people, not practicing social distancing and not wearing masks. I hate to legislate this, but some people cannot be trusted to be responsible to protecting others, and this is too dangerous a virus to leave it to individual discretion.

  8. People should HAVE masks in case they are crossing paths with others on the sidewalk but if someone is on a bike they will already be socially distanced from a pedestrian. Wearing a mask while jogging could be a health risk to the runner. Furthermore, people should be able to walk at Victory Field instead of having to go across the street to walk on the school lawn. And if anyone proposes allowing walking in certain places only during specific hours (as if COVID-19 only exists between 9AM and Noon) as some town has done, I hope that person takes a long walk off a short pier because I can’t stand absolute idiots.

  9. Add Malden and Brookline to the article of cities near Watertown. The Boston area is still on the upswing of infection and death from covid19. Please, please don’t be fooled: particles that contain virus aerosolize and can hang in the air for three hours! That means that someone walking outside or running or biking spews breath and the warmer your breath and the faster you move the longer the slipstream after you. Someone else comes by and doesn’t see you, but your breath hangs in the air and spreads and that person has to walk through particles of breath and possibly virus. Think about it–virus from asymptomatic people can hang around for three hours and is invisible! Would you take a chance on walking through that or subjecting your kids to it? Protect not only workers in shops, but people so far not infected just walking around to get a little exercise. Be caring as well as safe. Here’s a link to a picture that shows the story: Please keep scrolling down even when no words appear. Sincerely, Barbara and Jeremy

  10. Absolutely masks at all times in any public place. If we cause even one neighbor to get ill it is too much. Taking care of each other is the key to a healthy community. This is what being a great country is about. Paula and Richard

  11. It’s totally understandable that folks commenting here can’t see the value of wearing masks outside. I walk 4 miles every morning and over the last year have begun to recognize many of the same walkers/runners. When I’m on the sidewalk, runners and bikers will pass me just on the other side of the curb. That’s maybe 3 feet. And, with the nicer weather, more people are out, large family groups that refuse to go single file on the other side of the path, etc. So it can’t be assumed because we are outside, the aerosols can’t reach us.

  12. In the beginning, months ago, all the national “experts” and doctors were all saying that the average person should not wear masks.

    Now we’re told to do so? And may be required to do so?

    I was in Watertown today.

    I saw police details with street construction crews on Mt. Auburn and Arsenal, and none of them were wearing masks.

    Will firemen be required to wear masks? Do you wear a mask around your family so you don’t give them Covid-19?

    Do you ever sleep in the same bed or do you practice “social distancing” there too?

    Where can the entire population of Watertown get those blue surgical masks? Nowhere.

    I don’t mean a bandana, t-shirt, or a Dick Nixon mask. Is the Town going to hand them out? How many per person?

    Maybe everyone should be required to take their temperatures?

    Just try to buy a fever thermometer. There aren’t any anywhere. Go ahead and call.

    • It is an interesting point about where to get masks. I think the requirement is a face covering, not some N95 mask, or even the surgical one. Even so, it can be hard to get masks without making them.

      • Perhaps the Community Foundation’s Resiliency Fund and associated efforts can purchase masks (commercially made or DIYs) and work collaborate on a distribution strategy that will be sustainable for the coming weeks (months?). Although I don’t know know this for certain, there may be overlap between those folks having difficulty getting food and medicines with those who don’t have masks. So food distribution strategies might also become mask distribution strategies.
        Charlie, I hope you will tap your reporting networks and let us know what you find out.

  13. Children under 8 should not be forced to wear a mask, unless in a store. I just don’t bring my kids in a store to protect them from being traumatized. Personally I find it abusive towards children and no valid science that I read anywhere supports they can be a risk to self or others. I may be wrong so out if respect I keep them free in my back yard. I wear a mask in stores or if I deliver to a home, and hope others will too. If walking in the city it’s not a bad idea though at certain times of the day there is no one so no risk. In open spaces (10+ feet apart) it’s not necessary the risk is almost 0. On an outdoor path with bikers and joggers going back and forth absolutely yes. It’s not black and white. It’s contextual and depending on the time of day and area. I cringe at the idea there will be force applied here, though I understand people’s fear. I’ve seen police and firemen repeatedly gather without masks, I wondered about that?

  14. I STRONG SUPPORT an order requiring wearing of face masks in public to contain the spread of COVID-19.

    I am a physician living in Watertown Square, and at my hospital I see first-hand the devastating effects of COVID-19 on our citizens. Old and young alike are vulnerable. We are only just starting to identify effective treatments but are a long way from having a vaccine.

    For any individual, the longer we can delay the transmission of this aggressive disease, the more likely we will be to effectively treat the illness when it does strike.

    I have seen too many people die from needless exposure to COVID-19 not to speak up for my home town.

    The effectiveness of face masks in public in slowing the spread of COVID-19 has been definitively shown in several excellent clinical studies. Face masks markedly reduce the likelihood that a carrier of the disease will infect anyone, and there is also protection of uninfected individuals who wear masks. If everyone wears masks (and if sick people avoid going out in public), the rate of COVID-19 transmission can be cut by up to 90%.

    If face masks are worn by all in public, it would make a huge difference. Many fewer would fall ill, and many lives would be saved.

    On my daily walks along the Charles River walking path and in Watertown Square, I see many individuals wearing masks, and yet there are many more who walk heedlessly close to fellow walkers without any facial covering whatsoever. Runners huff and puff as they go by, the vast majority without face masks. This is a recipe for disastrous spread of disease, affecting young and old- and particularly the older and more infirm among us- who need the greatest protection.

    I implore you to request that the Watertown Board of Health affirm an enforceable order to mandate the use of face masks in all public places Watertown. We in Watertown would be following suit with many local communities (Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, Belmont) who have recently adopted similar orders. This must not be voluntary- it must be enforceable by law in order to have the required impact on behavior.

  15. My current role as a nurse practitioner is to make follow up calls to patients with COVID who are convalescing at home. This virus is nasty and can seriously take down people of all shapes sizes and ages, and can do so very quickly. I agree that it is strange to wear a mask and can be uncomfortable, but we need to do what we can to contain the spread of COVID. The alternative is far worse.

  16. It is moronic to think people need to wear masks everywhere. If you are in close confined areas with multiple people yes it is a good idea. But while social distancing it is not necessary. The government does not need to control us and mandate these petty rules. It’s simple if you want to wear a mask wear one. If you are elderly or have multiple pre-existing condition wear a mask. Please read the facts the media is creating a hysteria with this. They want the new cycle to go forever.

    • Thanks for your comment Mark. It sounds like others share your opinion. As a one member of the media (though you might not have directed it at me) I will say that I will be very happy when this news cycle is over. Besides meaning people will be safe again and we can go back to normal lives, it is not enjoyable writing similar stories about the same subject day after day. Just my opinion but I suspect other journalists would agree.

  17. “Just because Somerville & Cambridge want to hand out $300 fines for everyone except homeless panhandlers and illegal immigrants don’t follow their logic.”

    There is never any logic in the land of the looney. Watertown, please don’t become a constituent republic of The People’s Republic.

  18. Yes, masks should be mandatory.When I went to Stop and Shop on Monday many men Did not wear masks or gloves. For those of you who get deliveries from Peapod the workers were not wearing gloves or masks.
    Waltham PublicHealth Dept. Is enforcing this tomorrow – May 1.

  19. I agree as well that this is a ridiculous idea. If you want to wear a mask then fine. But we should not be forced. I can understand if a business want to make it a requirement for its customers. That’s their choice because it’s their business. We can choose whether or not to go into that business. But to make it mandatory and fine people is just out of control. As well as this shutdown that is showing no signs of some small amount of reopening. I’m sure liberal Watertown will go ahead and make it mandatory to wear masks in public. Watertown has been trying very hard the past few years to be more and more like Cambridge and Somerville.

  20. I have a better idea. I see a lot of people mentioning runners, joggers and bicyclists as being the worst offenders for not wearing a mask.. Maybe we should ban running, jogging and bicycling instead?

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