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'Education Before Enforcement': How Communities Are Handling Mask Mandate

BOSTON (CBS) - Massachusetts communities are now enforcing Governor Baker's updated mask mandate, that they be worn at all times in public places even if social distancing is possible.

"It's now part of your uniform, one in the car, one in the backpack, you're constantly shuffling these things," said Everett resident Rich Rowland.

In the town of Winthrop, which has seen cases of Covid-19 jump 34 percent in the last three weeks, public health director Meredith Hurley says it has added to the burden of enforcement.

"People sometimes like to buck mandates so we try to bring in the science behind it and why it is important especially because we have such high case counts right now," Hurley said.

Winthrop does have a part-time Covid enforcement officer, but Hurley said it's not enough to do the kind of enforcement that is needed. She is hoping mask wearing just becomes a habit.

"We're also chasing Covid at the same time, that's why we're asking people to take this seriously," Hurley said.

But Winthrop resident Lauren Craig calls it "psychological warfare" and an overreach.

"The virus has a 99.98 percent recovery rate and you're going to lockdown a whole society for something that has a 99.98 percent chance of recovery?"

In Chelsea where Covid rates are also high, Police Captain Keith Houghton says officers are doing random checks, even offering masks out of their cruisers for those who need them.

"We have a policy of education before enforcement. We've had some glitches with businesses that were minor so we just educated them," said Captain Houghton.

Communities are still trying to drive home the message that a small thing can make a big impact.

"There's a lot of things that go into being a responsible citizen. I don't think being asked to protect the health of others around me is an imposition in any way," said Winthrop resident Raymond Conner.

Massachusetts is one of 34 states with a mask mandate and there's also one in place in Washington, D.C.

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