Corona Stompers pull tables amid safety concerns

Jen Maxner, Amy Upton, Diana Reilly and Amanda Mead, AKA the “Corona Stompers,” shown here handing out hand-made masks and other saftey equipment at Morning Glory Farm, have pulled their tables for Fourth of July weekend at SSA terminals. - Lexi Pline

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. 



  1. Thanks for all you have done.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one that is concerned that people are dropping the ball. I’m seeing fewer face covering everyday and a hole lot of hand shaking and hugging going on as if everything is normal.
    It’s not normal and it won’t be until a cure is found. It’s so simple to follow the guidelines and I don’t get how so many people are so stubborn and think that they are safe from catching or transmitting this virus. I drove by a tennis club in Vineyard Haven yesterday and it looked like a normal summer on the vineyard. Not a mask in site people standing around in crowds piled up on one another. Why can’t you talk from a safe distance. All it takes is one infected person to pass this on to dozens of other and they do the same. If we’re not careful things will go backwards fast. It wasn’t that long ago that the refrigeration trucks were on the streets of NY stacking up the body’s. I’m not saying stay home just use some common sense people and follow the guidelines. It’s just that simple.

    • You are typical Lefty Nattering Nabob of Negativism.
      You are trying to kill our economy with the truth .

    • Well said, BigT. It shouldn’t be such a struggle to get people to work together. Not when the guidelines are simple.

  2. What in God’s name is wrong with people? As the saying goes if you hate wearing a mask you’ll really hate a ventilator. Wear one…you’ll get used to it. Stop making it about your “freedom”.

  3. Apparently Chief Blake needs to get off the phone, walk outside his office (if he’s actually in OB); and look around… no one wearing masks. Then maybe he could find his officers, and point them in the right direction. Hint: the mask issue is not in Harthaven or tucked in by the OB waterworks on Barnes Road where his officers appear to be using their cell phones and maintain their social distancing!

    • I could not agree more the new ways to educate passengers about mask usage regarding compliance has miserably failed as expected. Blake said they will advise the people to wear their masks, or provide them with masks if they don’t have any. Obviously that isn’t working either.
      My observations just driving thu OB is they are the biggest violators of the three down island towns.
      Although 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.
      What good are laws, mandate and fines if they refuse to use the tools / teeth to enforce them especially during such a terrible heal issue?
      When we see OB having the most spikes by Oct first where will the buck stop then?

  4. Something about this story doesn’t make sense. This group was formed to educate people about wearing masks and providing masks for them but then they bailed on the idea because not enough people were wearing masks? Sounds like they just just got tired of the process and the work and are throwing blame on others for the failed project.

  5. The STEAMSHIP AUTHORITY’S policy should be as follows:


    End of story.


  7. As an Oak Bluffs business owner I constantly have to ask customers to put on a mask as they enter my store. Oak Bluffs PD has been unseen on the Main Street, unless they are called regarding a disturbance. I remember when Chief Joe Carter and Chief Peter Williamson would personally walk Circuit Ave and the Harbor on the weekends. There are a couple PSO’s around to write tickets and give directions but no uniformed full timers at all.

    • Pro Small Biz, you are right on the money! I remember Chief Joe Carter and Chief Peter Williamson very fondly, they were very professional, personal and not `political` at all!.
      OB should have made changes long ago, this summer situation will come at a high cost and hopefully this will finally make the selectmen get off their butts.

  8. I was at Stop and Shop this morning and heard the Steamship announce that you must a have a mask on to board the boat.

  9. This doesn’t add up. They formed a group to give out free masks, but they quickly gave up on it because it was too much of a challenge? namely because of a lack of “clear, unified directive” from the SSA and port towns?

    • Right? I reread the article multiple times thinking I missed something. Where’s the safety concern? Seems like a case of sour grapes.

  10. SSA makes announcements outside, but there is no enforcement on the boat. I’ve been on the boat 4 times recently with passengers and crew not wearing masks on every trip.

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