Mattapoisett Selectmen devise policy to keep masks on in stores

May 14, 2020

MATTAPOISETT — Selectman Paul Silva said that he had more complaints about employees and customers not wearing masks in stores than any other issue in his 11 or 12 years as Selectman. So, he asked at a May 14 meeting how to resolve it. 

Town Administrator Michael Lorenco, the Board of Health Agent Kayla Davis have all gotten calls about the issue as well, though none of the officials specified which businesses the calls concerned. 

Lorenco said if the Selectmen were to use their authority on the issue the only legal consequence they could give per Town Counsel would be to suspend a business license. 

Although fines would seem simpler, town counsel said that the Selectmen could not fine someone until a clear fine is put into place.

The town’s bylaws allow the Selectmen to fine up to $300, but Lorenco said they would need to be more specific about the fine for each offense before they could enforce them. Those fines would also be set by the Board of Health, not Selectmen directly.  

Selectmen agreed that talking about a fine would be a better idea after Governor Charlie Baker releases guidance on the state’s next step on Monday. 

For now, they decided to set up license-based consequences. However, they both agreed “to be fair and give [businesses] a chance to correct any issues,” as Silva put it. 

First they would speak with a business, and send a follow up letter, then issue a written warning, then call the license into question at a hearing.

Selectmen will have the policy approved by Town Counsel and sent to businesses before it goes into effect. 

Lorenco also said that the town created additional signage for buildings so customers would better respect rules.