Residents of Somerville, Massachusetts will be asked to wear face masks when going out in public starting this weekend.
Mayor Joseph Curtatone said the order, which took effect Wednesday, was “needed to help stop transmission” of the coronavirus and would apply to anyone aged two or older.
“Not everyone who has COVID-19 shows symptoms. You can carry the virus and infect other people without knowing it,” Curtatone said. “Wearing a face mask is one way to avoid it.”
After one week of grace period, violators can face a hefty fine.
“The police are committed to watching lovingly and will aim to first educate violators and issue warnings,” Curtatone said in a statement. “However, people who deliberately refuse to comply can be fined $ 300.”
Curtatone said that the new order applies to indoor and outdoor public spaces, such as shops, shared entrances of multi-unit homes, walkways, roads, footpaths and squares.
“The right face covering is clean and covers your nose and mouth,” Curtatone said. “In an emergency, any scarf, bandana, or clean cloth can be used.”
The message follows Somerville’s launch of a new community-wide testing program to protect residents against the corona virus.
The new testing program, launched on Monday, includes extensive testing, contact tracking and safe social isolation for all residents regardless of insurance or immigration status, according to the city.
Boston will start testing people for coronavirus antibodies to find those who might have a virus but don’t show any symptoms.
“Extending testing to the whole community, including tracking, tracking, and safe social isolation, is the only way we can begin to think safely about reopening our community and economy,” Curtatone said.
Officials said the program would offer road-testing at the Somerville Hospital site in the Cambridge Health Alliance, which would be extended to patients who walk and those who use bicycles. The city plans to open a satellite location in East Somerville as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added six new symptoms – including chills, muscle aches, headaches, and loss of taste or odor – to the symptoms of the new corona virus. Lucy Bustamante of NBC10 reports why this new symptom can get more people tested for COVID-19.
While the Crown Street parking lot at Somerville Hospital has been taking patients since Friday. Those who want an exam are required to call 617-665-2928 to arrange an appointment.