Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday ordered all residents to wear masks in public.
“Covering our faces when we cannot practice social distancing is an easy, critically important, and essential step that everyone can take to stop or slow the spread,” Baker told reporters at a press conference.
Anyone over the age of 2 must don a mask or face covering “in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not possible,” according to a statement from Baker’s office.
The order (pdf) primarily applies to people entering businesses that weren’t forced to shut down under Baker’s harsh stay-at-home order, which was recently extended to May 18.
Outdoor spaces, though, are also specified in the order.
It also applies to people using Uber, other transportation services, or mass transit.
Anything that covers a person’s nose and mouth counts as a covering, with a mask, scarf, and bandana listed as examples.
Baker asked people not to use medical-grade masks, saying they should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.
Young children under the age of 2 and “persons with difficulty breathing, or those who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance,” are exempt from the order.
People who decline to wear masks or coverings because of a medical condition won’t be required to produce documents verifying the condition. But a business can block an individual from entering if that person refuses to wear a mask or covering.
Baker cited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last month reversed its recommendations and said people should wear masks or coverings when in public places like grocery stores where so-called social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Massachusetts as of Friday had 64,311 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the third-highest number in the nation. The state does not release the number of people who have recovered from the disease, which is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus from China.
The state is still seeing one of the highest number of daily cases in the country, with 2,106 new cases reported.
Of the 3,716 patients currently in hospitals, 947 patients are in intensive care units. The state has recorded 3,716 deaths linked to COVID-19.
Most of the hospitalizations and deaths are among the elderly or those with underlying health conditions like obesity and kidney disease.
The vast majority of people who get the CCP virus eventually recover without requiring hospital care. A significant portion experience no symptoms.
Symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, and aches and pains.