OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- Masks or face coverings are now required on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m., the town's mayor said Friday.
The requirement is for anyone over the age of five and is in effect regardless of whether people can practice social distancing or not.
Council members said Friday they wanted to educate, rather than punish residents and visitors to Maryland's beach resort.
- People 'Trying To Find Loopholes' To Avoid Wearing Masks, Face Coverings, Baltimore Officials Say
- Coronavirus Resources: How To Get Help In Maryland
- TIMELINE: Coronavirus In Maryland, Tracking The Spread
- Latest coronavirus stories from WJZ
- Latest CDC Guidelines
"The worst publicity is all the pictures of people not wearing masks standing on top of each other. The worst publicity is people thinking Ocean City doesn't care about the safety, all they care about is the money," Mayor Rick Meehan said during a virtual council meeting.
Meehan wanted violators to get a citation for not wearing a mask rather than a misdemeanor under the governor's order, but the council did not pass this. The mayor, however, has the final say.
The council meeting at times got heated.
"We didn't even have a mandate in our own council chambers until a week ago. Now, give me a break. To say that we're heroes in the masks is a joke," council member John Gehrig said during one exchange. He went on to say, "...you're like Nancy Pelosi all of a sudden. Just pass it and then we'll talk about it later and see what's in it."
The mayor feels his emergency declaration is necessary to provide specific guidance given the governor's enhanced statewide mask mandate, which also took effect at 5 p.m. on Friday.
In nearby Delaware, the Rehoboth boardwalk already has a mask mandate.
"All eyes are on us. The governor has given us a great deal of flexibility in conversations, but he also knows where the fingers are pointing," Meehan said.
"It's never too late or the wrong time to do the right thing," Ocean City council member Tony DeLuca said. "And I think now is the time to do the right thing."
Several council members expressed concerns about how the rule will be enforced and spoke about the possible reluctance of the state's attorney to prosecute these cases.
for more features.