Updated 1:45 pm
The Corona Stompers team of civilian mask makers have pulled their tables from public locations due to concerns for the safety of their volunteers who hand out masks at their fundraising tables.
Amy Upton, a member of the Corona Stompers who spoke with The Times by phone Friday, said there isn’t enough being done to enforce mask and face coverings.
“We’re starting to feel like we’re handing out Band-aids in a war zone or parasols in a tsunami,” Upton said. “The Steamship has not done a good enough job of getting the message out there.”
Upton also said there has not been a clear, unified directive from the Steamship or the port towns. Corona Stompers intended to have tables set up in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs over the Fourth of July weekend.
The SSA does require masks to board its ferries. Masks are also required onboard, unless passengers are sitting on the open-air decks.
Steamship Authority spokesman Sean Driscoll said in an email to The Times that the Authority informs all members of the traveling public about the state face covering mandate at several points, including on buses, at boat terminals and on the vessels.
The SSA has also been working to inform passengers about Island-based requirements as well.
“We continue to work in new ways to educate our passengers about mask usage, but unfortunately, we share the same frustrations as many towns regarding compliance,” Driscoll said.
In Edgartown, folks at the Church Street Vineyard Transit Authority bus station were mostly wearing masks, and people who weren’t wearing masks were asked to put one on before they boarded the bus.
Down on Main Street, it was a toss up whether or not people were wearing masks. Some large groups were sitting on benches without masks, and long lines stretched down the sidewalks. While some would wear their masks around their neck and put them on when walking by another group, others would keep them around their neck or carry them in their hand.
In mid-June, after a particularly concerning weekend with lots of people gathering in Oak Bluffs with scant social distancing and mask-wearing, Oak Bluffs officials met to discuss an action plan moving forward. That’s included more signs and an additional police officer on duty in the harbor area. And while face-coverings are required in Massachusetts by order of Gov. Charlie Baker and could result in a fine up to $300, police chiefs on the Island have made it clear they’re looking to educate the public rather than be heavy-handed with enforcement.
Corona Stompers is still available to people and can be reached through Facebook.The group emerged early on in the pandemic when reports of shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were making headlines. They’ve since provided masks for first responders, supermarket workers, and had tables when Oak Bluffs began closing down Circuit Ave. on Sundays, for example.
On their official Facebook page, Corona Stompers recommend Islanders “stay home, have a pantry challenge, and watch ‘Jaws.’”
“We’re hoping to do it again. We’re not saying we’re done for the summer,” Upton said.
Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake told The Times via a phone call that police are following all the instructions given to them by the board of health, and are trying to educate the public about the importance of masks.
Blake said that although there are some who defy the public health guidelines, most people comply.
Officers are being deployed near heavily populated areas like Nancy’s Restaurant and Circuit Avenue to encourage mask wearing and social distancing.
If police see a large group of people not wearing masks, Blake said they will advise the people to wear their masks, or provide them with masks if they don’t have any.
“We are doing everything we can to promote a good situation in town and a safe environment. If a mandatory mask-wearing policy is implemented, we will work something out with the board of health.” Blake said.