Mask compliance spurs debate at Mattapoisett Board of Health

Dec 2, 2020

MATTAPOISETT — The Board of Health reviewed a plan to structure fines for repeat mask compliance violators at a Dec. 2 meeting, and the proposition was not popular. 

Selectmen drafted a plan to scale fining based on number of offenses, with a max penalty of $300, for those who fail to follow Governor Charlie Baker’s mask mandate. 

But discussion on the matter was tabled after Board member Ken Dawicki and Public Health Nurse Emily Field both said that fines for non-compliance with the mask mandate would hurt the community. 

“When it becomes punitive and involves law enforcement, I think we lose a piece of community there,” Field said. 

For Dawicki, the issue was too authoritarian. 

“I feel it comes under close consideration of becoming a police state,” he said. 

But the board agreed that fines will likely not be an issue, as they agreed that the community has been doing well with mask wearing.

Town Administrator Michael Lorenco said the plan was put together to avoid using the default rules for non-compliance fining passed down by the state. 

Without writing that indicates how much a non-compliance fine would cost someone who refuses to wear a mask, Lorenco said the fine would default to $300. 

“That’s why the board wanted to get some sort of structure together,” he said. 

But the board still wasn’t too keen on implementing a fine structure of any kind. 

“There’s no way I’m gonna agree to a fine schedule at this point,” Dawicki said. 

Instead, Field suggested positive reinforcement to remind people to wear their masks. 

“I don’t think that there should be warnings, but rather reminders,” she said.