Watertown has one of the strictest face covering order, where people must wear them outside at all times or face fines, but the Town has taken an educate-first approach to enforcement.
The state has a face covering requirement as one of the measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, and it requires people to wear something that covers their nose and mouth when inside a public space or outside when people cannot be 6 feet or more away from each other.
The face coverings ordinance passed by the Watertown Board of Health in April requires face coverings being worn at all times while outside in public spaces such as sidewalks and on the street The ordinance also allows a Health Department employee or Watertown Police officer to issue a fine of up to $300.
Watertown Director of Health Larry Ramdin said members of his department have spoken to people who were not wearing their masks, but no fines have been issued.
“There has been significant compliance, we have (had) several conversations with those who choose not to wear a face covering,” Ramdin said.
The Watertown Police Department has not issued any fines, either, according to Police Lt. James O’Connor.
“Our approach is to educate people about the issue,” O’Connor said.
Ramdin said he believes it is important that people do not stop efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, even as the rate of spread has dropped significantly from the surge in April and May.
“While the cases have been positively impacted by the actions of the residents by adhering to social distancing, wearing face coverings and observing good hand hygiene, I still worry about complacency as we start to get back to some level of normality and then we see another surge in cases as we are seeing in other regions, but I do believe Watertown (is doing) what is best to protect ourselves,” Ramdin said.
As of July 7, Watertown has 426 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (five more than June 26), 23 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, and there are seven active cases. Statewide, there have been 104,659 cases and 7,983 deaths.
The ages of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Watertown are:
19 and under: 20
70 and over: 79
Unknown age: 1