As of Wednesday, people in Massachusetts must wear a face mask or covering in public if they cannot practice proper "social distancing" from others. In other words, if you cannot stay 6 feet away from strangers in public, you're now required to cover your mouth and nose with a mask, cloth or other covering.
The rules, ordered by Gov. Charlie Baker, do not apply to children under the age of 2 or people who cannot cover their faces due to medical conditions.
The state also strongly discourages the general public from wearing medical-grade masks, so as to keep them in stock for health care workers and first responders.
When must I cover my face?
Face coverings are required in grocery stores, pharmacies and all other "essential" businesses. They're also required on public transit, in taxis and ride-shares, and in all public waiting areas and transit stops. Entry could be denied to anyone without a face mask.
If you're going outside for any other purpose and you expect to come within 6 feet of other people, you should also cover your face.
Will I get fined for not wearing one?
Failure to comply could result in a civil fine of up to $300 — for each violation.
Advice from a registered nurse
Christina Nester, a registered nurse in Worcester, joined WBUR to give a crash course in proper face mask protocol. Here are some of her tips:
How to properly don mask:
- Wash or sanitize your hands.
- Take the mask by the ear loops and apply them over your ears.
- Gently pinch the mask around your nose and along the sides of your face.
- Also make sure to pull the mask down over your chin.
- Never wear the mask below your nose or below your mouth.
"The most important thing is that you do not want to touch the outside of the mask. Once you've applied it, the outside of the mask should be considered a dirty area."
How to properly clean a cloth mask for reuse:
"When you're taking the mask off, you don't want to just crumple it up and put it in your pocket."
- Take a piece of paper towel set it down on a surface where it will be out of the way.
- When removing the mask from over your ears, you want to make sure that you set the outside of the mask down on the paper towel and make sure that the inside of the mask is facing up so that when you go to reuse it, you can pick it up without touching the outside of the mask. Don't touch the outside of the mask with your fingers.
- After two to three uses, launder the cloth mask in a gentle cycle or hand wash, depending on how fragile it is.
On properly disposing of your mask:
"If you're using a disposable mask, it really should be one-use wear. ... You want to remove it from the ear loops and then properly throw it in a trash receptacle."
How can I make my own mask? Read here.
Read about the potential impact of a statewide mask order here.