Downtown Edgartown under B.O.H. mask order

Edgartown models  after Nantucket.

This map outlines the area where masks or face coverings are required in Edgartown.

Residents and visitors to downtown Edgartown will be required to wear a mask or face covering between the hours of 8 am and 1 am, according to a new regulation approved by the board of health. The new regulation is an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The mask order, which went into effect Friday morning, was approved during a joint meeting on Thursday between the board of health and the board of selectmen. Selectmen did not vote on the regulation.

The areas where face coverings are required are detailed in the regulations

The regulations apply to all public indoor and outdoor spaces. Children 2 and under are exempted from the regulations, as are those who have a health condition or a disability.

Failure to follow the regulations could result in a fine of $50 for a first offense, up to $300 for a fourth, and subsequent, offenses. An order by Gov. Charlie Baker is already in effect, but it only requires mask wearing if social distancing can’t occur. The Edgartown regulation makes no mention of social distancing.

The town will use “ambassadors” to educate the public on the benefits of mask wearing.

Edgartown health agent Matt Poole told those gathered at a joint Zoom meeting of the board of health and board of selectmen that the mask order stems from a trio of citizens’ petitions. 

“We are going to be in need of some delegates or some ambassadors if we chose to go this route,” Poole said. “I would like to call on the [Edgartown] Board of Trade to provide their support in identifying good candidates … and helping with scheduling these folks.”

Town administrator James Hagerty said Nantucket’s order was used as a template: “I think there was a misconception — we thought that the Nantucket order was getting enforced by the police department.” Hagerty said it was in fact ambassadors who did the work.

“The police are part of a holistic solution,” he said, “but I think solely police enforcement isn’t necessarily the right answer. I think this kind of needs to be a combined effort with police educating, as well as the board of health enforcing, as well as the businesses enforcing. I think we’re going to set ourselves up for failure if we say a 17-year-old traffic cop making $16 an hour is kind of our tip of the spear on this — getting involved in maybe highly polarizing discussions [that] I don’t know if he or she is necessarily equipped for.”

On Main Street in Edgartown, it’s difficult to spot an unmasked face, and stores and restaurants appear to have refined their protocols for social distancing, particularly when it comes to people waiting in line outside the store. 

Seasonal visitor Zoe Olsen told The Times she is visiting the Island for a week from her home in Washington, D.C, and noted how responsible most people in the downtown area are with face coverings. 

“My experience so far is that everyone has a mask,” Olsen said. “My only exception is on the beach during the weekend. South Beach was pretty packed when we went.”

Olsen said she has been into some boutique shops in town, and praised the stores’ methods of sanitation and cleaning. 

Lisa Reibstein, visiting from Newton, said she has noticed a greater police presence in highly congested areas, and said law enforcement is doing a “good job” with making sure people are following the public health guidelines.

Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said he conferred with Nantucket Police Chief William Pittman. “His agency has purposefully stayed out of the enforcement component,” he said. “The first reason being it’s an antagonistic subject matter …” McNamee elaborated by saying uniformed police might only “exacerbate” tensions over masks. 

The second reason, McNamee said, was that “Nantucket Police, like Edgartown Police, went to great lengths to try to protect their staff from infection. We could see a resurgence of COVID in the fall. Injecting the officers right up to unprotected people could further expose us. But like Nantucket, all of the chiefs in Massachusetts did receive a memo put out from general counsel from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police. And their advice was that police are not primary enforcers of bylaws for mask enforcement.”

In the end, police weren’t factored heavily into the enforcement equation for the mask zone. 


  1. Hope this helps Edgartown Bicycles! No EB employees or customers (at least a half dozen people) were wearing masks today. A sales associate explained the bike mechanics working in the showroom were roommates and “in the same bubble” so they didn’t need them. The associate put on a mask while fitting my child for a helmet but removed it when stepping away. I hope this new ruling means more safety at the shop (and others)!! I’ve heard face shields are $6.99 at Shirley’s and probably more comfortable than masks for the poor employees stuck wearing them all day. Thankfully, so many Edgartown businesses like Dairy Queen, Port Hunter, Boneyard, etc. are really on it! #letsbeatthistogether #casefreemv

    • My comment applied to the bike SHOP not traffic. There were at least three unmasked Edgartown Bicycle employees INSIDE and additional unmasked employees outside. All customers inside were unmasked (except for us). I politely said I was concerned to an employee inside who politely shrugged me off. I hope this new regulation helps to ensure everyone wears them inside at Edgartown Bicycles and elsewhere in Edgartown. EB is the only place on MV that I’ve seen this disregard of masks (I haven’t left the island in months and cannot compare elsewhere!!).

      • Island Raised, you’ve implied support for a man who does not understand wind or cleaning supplies. You promoted another man who insists, even in 2020, that HIV is solely a “gay disease”. That its effect on other groups was hype. Then you expect us to trust his easily debunked judgment on whether coronavirus is similarly just a media creation. Don’t think you’ve earned the right to lecture anybody on this thing called science that eludes us rubes.

        Citizens came up with the petition, but that doesn’t mean it’s based on their subjective beliefs. They are using observational evidence that has been around for a hundred years. Pro-mask guidelines are in keeping with the recommendation of countless professionals. In many countries. Even those where our culture wars are not a factor. Masks aren’t new or complex. COVID-19 is. It’s bizarre that you’re willing to take risks with a disease that can lead to dire complications, yet you promote fear and mockery of time-tested PPE.

        If some don’t wish to cover up, that’s fine. Just stay home. If you want to go out in public, the matter was settled by the governor’s order. It is not law, but it has the force of law until a higher power strikes it down. That hasn’t happened. Even if it does, it won’t negate the value of masks and distancing. I don’t need the word of a court or politician to support practical steps. Why would anyone? Talk about giving away personal freedom.

  2. I’d like to see a cop give me a ticket.
    Pretty sure that would never hold up in court

  3. I think Town administrator James Hagerty did a fantastic job trying to figure out this CV-19 mess and came up with the best plan possible.
    My very great concern is non enforcement, social distancing and the closing comment; In the end police weren’t factored heavily into the enforcement equation for the mask zone.
    That enforcement is key to controlling the spreading CV-19.
    So many states are now extremely sorry that they opened to soon and had Zero enforcement and now the spiking of the Virus in their states are out of control.
    Can you imaging what will probably happen to our island once the carriers leave in September!

    • “The carriers”?! Heck of a way to talk about the “tourist class” we’ve tethered ourselves to by subsidizing everything us “natives” do with their tax dollars and patronage.

      “Native” — not only do you you sound like a classic anti-immigration Nativist, but a totalitarian to boot when you talk about “enforcement”. Respectfully, if you identify as either — check yourself?

      I for one do not want to see what happens when the repugnant and disrespectful “Defund the Police” crowd get into ugly clashes with the ignorant and pig-headed “Enforce Mask Mandates!” crowd. Then again, I guarantee that there are just as many on the Island as on the Mainland who hold both opinions at the same time, but the irony is lost on them.

      Either way, this “mandate” is unenforceable. The town and its police department would do well to note the liability they incur in the event that an individual declines to wear a mask for medical reasons citing HIPAA, or worse, someone with such a condition — who does not yet know they have one — suffers from a medical episode because of mask use.

      Have a nice day!

      • Major research universities, the American Lung Association, the CDC, and the surgeon general are all pushing for the use of masks. Are they being pigheaded, jmgn?

        I often insist that it’s evil to drink and drive because it puts others at such great risk. Don’t see why corona is any different. Being responsible means learning to adjust your behavior when it could cause harm. Not exactly radical thinking.

        Yes, there is a medical exception within the order. I have no doubt that a few will take unethical advantage. There have already been reports of some faking the use of masks to appear as if they’re complying. No honor.

        Even the minority who may have real issues with masks, including those with sensory considerations, are being encouraged by doctors to practice with other face coverings. (And it should be noted that including a medical exception in the order doesn’t imply masks are a public danger. They’ve been used by countless people, including the very ill, for decades.) Pros who treat serious lung conditions have recommended trying bandanas. A face shield may work, too. If someone really can’t handle any covering, then outings are unsafe. COVID-19 hits patients in this category too hard. I feel the only solution is to stay put if you are fortunate enough to have the option. That’s what I am doing for the moment. Everyone can help protect the remaining vulnerable folks who do have to mingle — some have no choice but to work outside the home — by following the rules. Seems difficult to argue with that if concern for the disabled is genuine.

        • Also, can you clarify what undetected medical conditions may be worsened by wearing a mask? Thanks.

  4. Fascinating how the town determined the virus goes to sleep at 1 am and is up rearing for a fight at 8. Even more interesting is the virus has no interest in going to South Beach. Probably never read tripadvisor I’m guessing.

    • REQUIRED to wear masks from 8 AM through 1 AM. It is hoped those out super late would have the smarts to keep a mask handy in case there’s an entertainment event finishing at those hours.

      BS: Would you carry a mask just in case? Would you carry an extra just in case the person with you needed one?

      • I won’t wear one at all walking down the street. Out of respect for business owners I will wear one indoors.

        • Bs — Could you elaborate on why you feel you are above the law ?
          Is it because as a white privileged male you need only follow the laws you agree with, or is it because you are so self centered and self absorbed that you could care less about anyone else’s safety?
          I am sure the town could use your $50 — go for it..
          And speaking of money– Andrew– if you’re reading this, the hospital could use that thousand dollars .

    • It is as enforceable as the seat belt law.
      Not wearing a seatbelt does not harm others.
      Not wearing a mask may.

    • What is really fascinating is that the people in charge have to draw a line somewhere while those with no responsibility just bitch and moan.

  5. Not enforceable. BTW people have medical conditions that make mask use dangerous. This protective exemption was built into our statewide executive order, and is required by federal law (HIPAA). No one is required to disclose such medical conditions. If this happens to you, call the Feds.

    Does the town of Edgartown, or its Police dept, really want to incur this kind of liability?

    This mask mandate is “War of the Worlds” level panic on false premises. Get the science right.

    “So is it possible that wearing a face mask as part of social distancing can cause someone to build up so much carbon dioxide and get so little oxygen that they pass out, or worse? Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of the body’s respiration process, something we all breathe in and out every day. How harmful can it be? In rare cases, it can actually be pretty dangerous, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They say that inhaling high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) may be life-threatening. Hypercapnia (carbon dioxide toxicity) can also cause headache, vertigo, double vision, inability to concentrate, tinnitus (hearing a noise, like a ringing or buzzing, that’s not caused by an outside source), seizures, or suffocation due to displacement of air.”

    If masks worked, why did we lock down?
    If masks worked, why were hundreds of inmates throughout the USA released?

    • did you print out one of those fake exemption cards to go along with your fake ‘science’ and ‘law’

    • jmgn– to answer your first question “If masks worked, why did we lock down?”
      the simple answer is the government and private industry did not rise to the challenge, and there were not enough mask to go around.
      to answer your Second question – we know masks are only a part of the solution. they do not protect anywhere near 100 % — prisons are a great place for covid –to release non violent criminals to prevent the infection rate going up, and the prisons having to pay the medical bills could be a purely economic decision.
      Would you rather the taxpayer pick up the $100 k medical bill for some junkie that was busted for shooting up in their mom’s basement , or let them out, let them od if that’s what they want to do.

    • The mask law is as enforceable as the child car seat law.
      It is a matter of we the people demanding enforcement.

    • “If masks worked, why did we lock down?”
      Masks are one part of the lockdown.
      Locking down, to some degree, crap getting into or out of your lungs.

      “If masks worked, why were hundreds of inmates throughout the USA released?”
      Masks do work, that is why surgeons wear them, the reduce they transmission of disease, from and to the surgeon.
      Our government has designed it’s human cage systems in a manner not conducive to social distancing.

    • Put the mask on, Red Herring! Our lungs are supposed to offload CO2 at the alveolar, lung tissue, level. Think here not just of the lungs, but of the heart. We are supposed to produce C02. (I will leave global warming aside here. Air is mostly oxygen and a little nitrogen. CO2 shouldn’t be a part of the partial pressure mix.) We breathe in O2 and N, and necessarily dump the carbon from sugars/fuels out of the bloodstream by exchanging CO2 for oxygen at the level of the lung tissue. Humans haven’t evolved to where we can make good use of nitrogen. Respiratory alkalosis (unless I forgot everything from School and the Boards) is a matter of not getting enough O2 into the bloodstream to offload the carbon. (And you thought organic chemistry was a waste of time!) Kidney disorders, hormonal issues, and Cushing’s disease are frequent causes. Face masks should not cause these issues, which are usually chronic problems. Diabetes (not face masks) can also be a contributor. I was once at work in an operating room for 12 hours, and coworkers were there even longer. (Not hyperbole.) As has been the practice for decades, all donned masks before entering the room, and no one dare remove that mask until after leaving the room. No hyper or hypo capnography problems. Then as now we put masks on to keep ourselves safe and others from getting infected from us. Our bodies need to process sugar just so, so watch your blood pressure and blood sugar, stop making excuses, and put on the mask!

      • An operating room with an opened-up abdomen or chest vulnerable to any germ is not the street.
        Use your common sense.
        The density of dis- and misinformation being “shed” here is quite something.
        As is the obnoxious tone of those who encounter a dissenting view, regardless of how well founded in scientific studies and data analysis.
        Whether we like it or not, whether those commenting here understand it or not (obviously, not), herd immunity through exposure to the virus and regular workout of our immune systems is the only ultimate “solution” to the corona situ.
        Wear a mask indoors or if in close proximity outdoors. Wearing a mask at the beach is silly. It is the vulnerable who should stay indoors, not the healthy.
        More data/studies are becoming available daily on the actual IFR and R values of this virus, on the actual extent of T-cell immunity, and lots of other related issues. Also from, e.g., the CDC.
        More info for truth seekers:

        • ” the obnoxious tone of those who encounter a dissenting view” Like yours, Island Raised? If you are going to supply sources, trying making them sources of facts. Footnotes, attributions, peer review, – stuff like that. Providing us with links to YouTube videos that claim Bill Gates took over the healthcare industry are not proof of common sense. You were saying something about misinformation?

        • “The density of dis- and misinformation being “shed” here is quite something.”

          What exactly are we getting wrong? Share some specific examples of things said that you find objectionable, please.

    • jmgn–we locked down because we couldn’t get get most people to wear a mask. A nationwide, full time across the board masks required in all public places with full compliance would knock this thing down to levels that would allow us to fully reopen the economy in a month.

  6. I’d like to gently remind the anti-mask peeps that even Trump has kinda changed his tune and come out in support of these embattled bits o’ cloth. We indeed have the first masked photos of him in the wild, and it’s the sexiest he has ever looked. ????

    If you’re still refusing, that makes you less practical than Trump, Mitch McConnell, a horde of Kardashians, and Vanessa the Sea Serpent. May be time to reconsider, yes? Clearly this aspect is not a partisan hoax when we now have bipartisan support from the top. Really think about that. In all seriousness, there is no shame in changing positions as we learn and observe. Thanks.

    • aquinnah– yes, trump looks one hell of a lot better with a mask on. Melania also.
      But let me make a prediction here… Two or three months from now ( if trump continues to advocate for masks) the right wing media will try to convince us that trump has always been the champion of masks, and they will run clips of Dr. Fauci saying most Americans should not buy masks. they will edit out the part where he says because the first responders needed them more.
      Any responsible government would have immediately banned the sale of ppe’s to private citizens, and invoked the war powers act to increase production of masks, and when the health care professionals were covered, to require every citizen in the country to wear one , as they became available.
      easy peasy– But no– trump confiscated supplies bought by states and re distributed them into the national stockpile where states that sucked up to him got the goods ( and we still have no idea where that stuff went or where it is today) He invoked the war powers act not to force large corporations with manufacturing potential to produce life saving products, but to force low paid mostly minority workers back into covid infested meat packing plants to insure there were enough pork chops and bacon to go around.
      Let the old and infirm people die, but give us our bacon they say,
      That’s about as fenced up as you can get.

    • I’m thinking trump now wearing a mask has more to do with his reelection than anything else.
      If you believe his wearing a mask and visiting Walter Reed was anything more than a photo-op, compare the four plus hours he spent playing golf with the 35 minutes he was at the hospital.

      • I realize it was a photo op. At least Trump finally stated he would wear a mask when in a crowd, then followed through on camera. I’m guessing some supporters needed to hear and see that from him directly. Which is not to imply he deserves a cookie. This should’ve been standard months ago. Can’t make up for lost time.

        I just hope that some holdouts will take notice of the overall pro-mask shift in Washington and rethink their own choices. Anti-mask talking points stem from the belief that corona is a Trump-targeting hoax. Now that prominent Republicans are touting masks — some more dependably than others, given the president’s fickle nature — it should put to rest whether they’re a liberal scam or a sign of weakness. I can dream, anyway. The facts and our universal need for PPE never should’ve been clouded by politics.

        Don, well said. The lifesaving opportunities squandered by our government are unspeakable. Hong Kong’s handling of corona stands in stark contrast, even if you discard the opinion-y aspects and just stick to the facts. I wish masks were the norm before the U.S. saw its first death, but that wouldn’t fly here.

        Jackie, I’d settle for lightly bonking some on the head with a foam pool noodle. But whatever will end the ???? debate works. lol.

        • Spoke too soon. Like clockwork, Trump has already betrayed the corona-is-not-a-hoax message by promoting tweets claiming it’s exactly that. ????????‍♀️ Not only does he get no cookie, he owes the rest of us for having to deal with his shortcomings and their fallout.

          Never thought I’d have occasion to say this, but just listen to Mitch, everybody.

          • We should be listening to Fauci and every other expert and experienced epidemiologist the Repubs are trying to discredit. Any Trump sycophant and supporter is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, especially when they seem to be saying something true, which they occasionally do, as exampled here by Mitch. I know you see good in even the worst humans, but don’t look for good when good is not there. Mitch is evil in every way. Don’t look to him as an example for anything. If he convinces a few hold-out covidiots to wear a mask, unlikely, but fine… but don’t tout him as any sort of do-gooder or person to listen to for anything. Those who still hang onto not wearing masks, as is evidenced here on the island, are not all Trump supporters, either. People turn into covidiots when they go on vacation and are sick of months of being careful. Covidiots know no political party when it comes to this virus, which also does not care what your politics are.

          • Oh, I definitely agree that many of the mask-shunning folks are doing it for apolitical reasons, Jackie. Was worried that would happen once summer hit and they wanted a break from corona. And some Republicans have always been happy to wear them. I greatly appreciate everyone who puts safety above the cultural divide. Just keep hoping that if medical researchers cannot get through to the others, maybe they’ll find motivation in a public figure they already respect. I don’t personally trust Mitch whatsoever and was partly kidding. We can file his mask support under “even a broken clock is right twice a day.” But I am genuinely glad that some are breaking from Trump on this point, even if their motives are less than sterling.

            It’s probably a futile hope that the holdouts will change at such a late date, I realize. ???? After reading about the success of countries with an estimated 98+% compliance, it’s hard to swallow that Americans will continue to die due to apathy and selfishness, not nature. I was never afraid of the virus itself. Just of how it would be handled by our leaders and neighbors.

  7. It’s incredible how some refuse to inconvenience themselves in order to possibly save lives. Show a little respect for your fellow human beings!

    • Show a little respect for Trump supporters.
      The only reason they refuse to wear a mask is because Trump refuses to do so.
      It only makes sense.

  8. This mask thing needs a better marketing campaign.
    Get people to think of them as a face condom.
    Who wouldn’t want to be seen in a stylish face condom.

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