Masks mandatory in downtown O.B.

Order goes into effect Friday.

A map showing the areas where masks are mandatory in Oak Bluffs. — Chris Seidel

Updated 3:20 pm

Headed to Nancy’s? On your way to Mocha Mott’s? Then you better have a mask on.

On Thursday, the Oak Bluffs board of health approved a new regulation requiring mandatory mask use in the downtown area. The regulations go into effect Friday, July 17, at 8:30 am. 

Following suit with Edgartown, failure to follow the regulations could result in a fine of $50 for a first offense, up to $300 for a fourth, or subsequent offenses. An order by Gov. Charlie Baker is already in effect, but it only requires mask wearing if social distancing can’t occur.

Health agent Meegan Lancaster said the police department is training three of its community service officers (CSO), who will be utilized as health ambassadors during their off-duty hours. Only the health ambassadors, board of health members, and health agent can issue fines for not wearing masks. The police won’t be used to enforce the regulation.

Board of health chairman William White said the CSOs would be specially trained to educate and enforce when it came to masks.

“We’re fortunate to be in a community where people are very aware, and people, most of them, understand the need to wear a mask, but that’s not everybody. We have a lot of visitors, and it can get very contentious,” White said.

Specifically, masks will be mandatory in the harbor district, B1 commercial district, B2 small-scale business district, Seaview Avenue from the intersection with Circuit Avenue Extension to the crosswalk across from Farm Pond, Lake Avenue between Kennebec and Seaview Avenues, and Ocean Avenue from the northerly point at Lake Avenue curving around Ocean Park and intersecting with Seaview Avenue at its southerly point. The area also includes Circuit and Kennebec Avenues, Niantic Park, Grove Avenue, and Uncas Avenue.

“This is basically saying you just need to wear a mask, be smart, wear a mask, we’ll help you, we’ll educate you, we’ll give you a mask,” board of health member Tom Zinno said.

Jackelyn Cavanaro, a medical worker, asked how the order would be enforced. 

Lancaster said there will never be 100 percent compliance. She added that issues arise when someone says they can’t wear a mask due to a medical exemption, because they’re not allowed to ask further about medical issues.

Cavanaro, who works with eldery people on the Island, voiced concerns about tourists coming to the Island, and wanted to see more being done in terms of enforcement.

“The tourists do not wear [masks]. The people that live here, we are, day tourists do not wear them,” Cavanaro said. “The gentleman I care for and half the neighborhood around Tuckernuck could die just because of the fact they’re elderly, they have cancer, and they can’t go to the grocery store … Something else needs to be done for our safety. We can’t go out anywhere.”

Selectman Brian Packish commended the board of health for their efforts and said the mandatory order was the right step.

He also said he had been receiving a mixed bag of text messages from Oak Bluffs residents, some wanting a mandatory mask order, others saying it was unconstitutional. He worried about how the board of health would manage complaints.

“I think that you’re going to have to be relentless in your enforcement to attempt to find any significant level of change,” Packish said. “As I said, I’m a little bit on the pessimistic side of people’s willingness to comply, but I am hopeful that it does put a mask on at least one more person.”

Updated with more information. –Ed.


  1. I doubt we’ll see any attempts at enforcement. I guess we can add “Not wearing a mask” to this partial list of prohibited things that you can currently do in OB without fear of interruption from the authorities:
    Smoking on the beach
    Drinking on the beach
    Leaving trash on the beach
    Riding your bike over the “No Bikes” markings on the sidewalk of Seaview Ave.
    Jumping off the fishing pier
    Painting “No Parking” on the street in front of your house which has no legal parking restrictions
    Public smoking of marijuana

  2. We all need to be scared, VERY scared. According to the state .000009 % of the population tested positive yesterday!! Yikes!

    • Not only that but only 1148 Americans died of Covid – 19 yesterday.
      Take off the damn silly masks and jump start the economy.

      This virus is just not a big deal, unless your mother died of it.

        • Large numbers of covid survivors who had no underlying medical problems now have on-going symptoms, including brain impairment, heart problems, kidney problems. Do you know how many people there are who, like you, think this is not serious… until they or a loved one has to deal with it? I don’t wish that on anyone, but clearly, that is the only way someone like you can be reached. Narcissists like Trump have no ability to be considerate or protective of others and that’s the issue about wearing/not wearing masks. The only way someone like that can realize the impact (of anything) is to experience it themselves. Eventually, everyone will learn, one way or another. Did you read about the game show host/Trump supporter whose Tweets about foregoing masks were retweeted by Trump? The host’s son is sick now. Or the Ohio army vet who served in the military and refused to let his “freedoms” be taken away? He’s dead now. Educate yourself before you make someone else sick. I’m less concerned about your well-being than you are, although I wear a mask for everyone.

        • 130,000 dead, and counting, is few.
          But of course no one dies of Covid 19.
          They die of blood stream oxygen depletion caused by pneumonia and heart failure.

        • People die because their heart stops beating.
          Covid – 19 starves the blood of oxygen.
          In time the heart stops beating.
          The true cause of death, not Covid – 19.

          • Anything a person dies of who EVER test positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus. That is the (widely acknowledged) problem with a lot of the death stats.
            While we’re at it, let’s also get this straight: The virus is SARS-CoV-2. The illness is covid-19.
            Covid” is an acronym for “corona+virus+disease.”
            SARS stands for “Severe acute respiratory syndrome.”
            CoV-2 stands for “corona virus 2.”

      • I didn’t ask you, Island Raised. I know how deaths are counted, but I wanted to hear BS’s opinion since he has made many claims about this.

        Also didn’t realize anyone had the two confused at this point, but I’m glad you can grasp a medical thingie and straighten us all out. Now work on hypoxia.

  3. Why are the police officers on island not enforcing the use of face masks? I don’t understand that at all. If a clerk in a store can say no mask, no entry, why can’t police officers, including the summer traffic police? Very upsetting.

    • I don’t know why our “local boys and babes in blue” aren’t aggressively policing mask compliance, but maybe we should get used to it, since the “Defund the Police” movement seems to be gaining a lot of momentum. Maybe it won’t reach here in MV — the movement is strongest in big cities that host very powerful underground drug & human trafficking rings. Wonder why? Could there possibly be a link between the organizers of the riots, the conciliatory politicians who tell the police to stand down, and international trafficking rings? I wonder how much money those crimes generate? I wonder where that money goes?

      Sorry, I went on a tangent. Anyway, our “local boys and babes in blue” have their work cut out for them with these mask orders. Let’s all keep them in our prayers, everyone in uniform puts their lives on the line for everyone else, surely that matters? We’re all in this together!

      Have a nice day!

      • Wow, the demonstrators and the refund the police movement are all funded by drug dealers and trafficking rings.
        This is the best conspiracy theory I’ve heard in a long time.
        Well done sir/madam. My hat is off to you…

          • You got it right the first time, the police need to be refunded.
            Start by demilitarizing them.
            Leave the military work to the military, let them run over Americans with tanks, when and where necessary, they have the necessary training.
            Fund compassion training.
            Not just range time.

      • “Defund the Police” is primarily about demilitarizing the police.
        Have them assume a protect and serve attitude.
        Not bust ‘civilians’ for the sheer joy of it.
        Get rid of the cops looking for ‘some real action’.
        That kind of defunding.

    • Police are there to enforce criminal law.
      Not civil law.
      I doubt that mask wearing mandates are laws of any kind, either criminal or civil.
      If you think someone is endangering your health, perhaps you should take that person to court. Meanwhile I will be taking to court people who practice “unhealthy lifestyles” such as driving SUVs, playing loud music in their cars and on Main Street, drinking sugary sodas with high-fructose corn syrup (diet sodas ever more unhealthy), eating red meat, not wearing a bike helmet, riding on the sidewalk, using recreational cannibis (“everyone knows” that is a gateway drug), . . .

      • Because someone else drinking soda is contagious and going to magically destroy your body? Your medical knowledge and logic are even weaker than I assumed.

      • Driving SUVs, playing loud music in their cars and on Main Street, drinking sugary sodas with high-fructose corn syrup (diet sodas ever more unhealthy), eating red meat, not wearing a bike helmet, riding on the sidewalk, using recreational cannabis does not endanger the health of other so long as you are not operating under the influence.
        Being within 6 feet of other people when you are positive does endanger the health of others.
        Of course if you have not been tested you will have no idea if you are positive and can take reasonable precautions for your loved ones.
        If you are positive ‘there is less than a 25% chance of you even having the sniffles.
        You will have a good two weeks to infect as many people as possible.

      • It must have warmed your heart today when Trump invited the press to take pictures of him in his mask.
        Did you take it to heart when he said it was patriotic to wear a mask?
        Trumps moonwalk puts Michael Jackson’s to shame.

  4. Please publish maps with north up! It took me awhile to figure out what that was an illustration of. The Island needs uniform policies on stuff like this or else it is useless. With many visitors arriving via Vineyard Haven the chances they will realize there is a different policy in OB are slim. As we have seen many times, it only takes one infected person to cause huge problems.

    • The whole country needs the same policy.
      The policy set by the Greatest President This Country Has Ever Known.

  5. I have a question which I have not found answered anywhere. If you are in your car driving down the street in either OB or EDG in the “mask required” zones, do you have to have a mask on? When I drive to Our Market, I don’t put my mask on until just before I open the car door.

    • I think you’re okay with that practice, islander, unless you decide to pick up a hitchhiker on your way to the market. (Not that picking up hitchhikers is happening at the moment…)

  6. I wonder if this mask business will bleed into flu season. Since Dr. Fauci has stated that the fatality of COVID-19 is “ultimately be [sic] more akin to [that] of a severe seasonal influenza”, should we expect that masks are here to stay even under threat of diseases hitherto not considered risky enough for mask use, let alone a mask mandate?

    I know in China, where the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen was engineered and disseminated, they wear masks even for colds.

    I’m proud that our Island has kept it to a minimum of 67 cases, of which only 3 have been symptomatic (and 14 were antibody tests). Then again, that was while we did not have a mask mandate.

    I suppose what would be wise is to see if cases continue to rise after the mandatory mask order. If they do, as they do in other places with mask orders, we’ll at least know that masks are useless and therefore the mask order is an ill-informed and pointless waste of resources.

    Then again, it’s so hard to know isn’t it? We can assume some positive cases must likely fall into the 20-50% of false positives, as our friend Elon Musk enthusiastically pointed out at the end of June.

    We’re in this together! Including our tourist patrons around whom we’ve built our Island economy and way of life, and who subsidize our year-round survival, and our beautiful Land Bank. Hopefully they won’t be scared off by paparazzi trying to expose the maskless to social shaming, or the “Build the wall!” types who like our President wish to protect the “natives” from the “invaders”. I suppose if those folks win out, we’ll need to restructure our entire town governments and by-laws in order to facilitate a more sustainable ‘MV First!” economy, since our current structure is founded upon our reliance on tourists.

    Kind of like America was reliant on China until we went to trade war with them. Isn’t kind of weird how the first COVID-19 case in America cropped up the same day we signed the humiliating (for the Chinese Communist Party) US-China trade deal?

    Have a nice day!

    • Is it really necessary for the Times to allow screwy conspiracy blather? This is no different than Pizzagate garbage.

    • Jmgn, this statement of yours strongly implies the virus is a political hoax:

      “Isn’t kind of weird how the first COVID-19 case in America cropped up the same day we signed the humiliating (for the Chinese Communist Party) US-China trade deal?”

      As such, maybe you can answer the burning question I’ve been asking of corona deniers for months.

      If the virus is just hype to bring down Trump, how do you account for it being a global issue rather than one that is solely affecting the U.S.? Other countries have seen death, packed hospitals, lockdowns, and economic damage. So why should any of us accept that this is an American-centric ploy? Not rhetorical. I would love some real responses and think it’s only fair that if you’re going to go against what the majority view as reality, you need to fill in any gaps in that logic.

      • P.S. Asking everyone to wear a mask is not anti-tourist. I’ve yet to see anyone imply that they *only* expect compliance from visitors, and if these convos prove anything, itms that we have some mask-stubborn locals, too.

        Islander, native, tourist, seasonal resident, or Martian who has chosen a realllllly wacky time to mingle among us and see what Earth is like? Doesn’t matter. Just put on the heckin’ mask, please. Before I get wrinkles from making this face all the time. ????

        • From the article: “The tourists do not wear [masks]. The people that live here, we are, day tourists do not wear them,” Cavanaro said.

          I was addressing the fearful and nativist sentiment summed up in the quote above — we all know “natives” are not 100% compliant, and yet those in town hall calling for mask enforcement act as if “natives” are above reproach while “invaders” are the source of our mask non-compliance.

          Actually, we don’t seem to disagree on too much, aquinnah! *Asking* everyone to wear a mask is no big deal. But enforced orders are another story.

          • Jmgn, I’m sorry for missing that you were referring to that quote in the article. I agree that the mask problem is not limited to tourists. Ideally, I would much rather everyone wore a mask by choice. But nothing about this has played out in an ideal way.

          • Covid – 19 is akin to seasonal flu, just more transmissible and deadly.
            We haven’t seen a flu near this deadly since the Spanish Flu, 675,000 US deaths (our population was 103 million).

      • Hi aquinnah! While that would be an interesting debate to witness, it would useless for us to get into, since I’m no “corona denier”. Didn’t you see when I said that the pathogen was engineered in and disseminated in China? Where do you get “political hoax” from that?

        People see what they want I suppose — or just don’t read before they comment!

        Have a nice day!

        • Jmgn, I did read your comment before replying. Your overall stance on the virus is confusing to me. Suppose I should’ve asked for clarification on a few other points before discussing the hoax issue. Will try again.

          Are you saying China directly attacked us with a bioweapon because of the trade deal? If that is not what you meant, can you explain what you did mean by the statement I quoted you on?

          Do you personally believe COVID-19 poses a risk no greater than the seasonal flu?

          Do you believe the fatality count?

          How do you know the virus was intentionally created in and released by China? Source? Thanks.

          And to answer your question, it sounded to me like you were talking about a political hoax because a.) you tied the first U.S. corona case to a political matter rather than natural transmission and b.) some of your other statements, though I may be reading them the wrong way, sounded like they were minimizing the virus’s severity and definitely like they are rejecting our means of controlling it. Masks have been used with near-perfect compliance in Asian areas that have been pretty successful at containment. I doubt that’s a coincidence, and experts agree.

        • Did you have a link or any evidence for this crackpot, racist, conspiracy theory that’s been thoroughly debunked?

        • “I said that the pathogen was engineered in and disseminated in China?”
          How did you know that?

    • What makes you think that SARS-CoV-2 pathogen was engineered?
      Do you think that is was decimated for the purpose of killing people?

    • “I suppose what would be wise is to see if cases continue to rise after the mandatory mask order. If they do, as they do in other places with mask orders, we’ll at least know that masks are useless and therefore the mask order is an ill-informed and pointless waste of resources.”

      What is the matter with you?
      Can’t you see the case counts in the states where the moron governors refuse to even urge the use of masks?
      Would you like an all expense paid vacation to Miami?

    • JMGN, do have any idea why surgeons wear masks?
      Does it have anything to do with the spread of infectious diseases from the surgeon, to the surgeon?
      Or are they just operating room fashion statements?

      • Ajay, you know the answer to this question from an earlier thread.
        You know that CIDRAP has stated that there is no measurable advantage to surgeons wearing masks, but they are loathe to give it up. This is a great example of how even the most educated don’t follow “the science” when the evidence goes against an entrenched practice or emotional belief, or hope, or wish.

        • Who else besides CIDRAP has stated that there is no advantage to surgeons wearing masks?
          CIDRAP is a small group in in small medical school in an unremarkable state university.
          The Medical School is nationally recognized for it’s veterinary program.
          That’s about it.

  7. I will be arriving next Thursday, and I will be wearing mask in public at all times. Because I have respect for others and I am a mature adult. Let’s just say that if I see any maskless, troglodytic adult infants complaining about their “liberty” being violated, I will look forward to showing them what a violation really looks like.

    • “Let’s just say that if I see any maskless, troglodytic adult infants complaining about their “liberty” being violated, I will look forward to showing them what a violation really looks like.”
      This sure sounds like a threat, Rambo!
      Please, stay away from our island.
      And if you have any thoughts of showing me what a “violation” looks like , see you in court.

  8. let’s just say I am a female porn star with a great body and I know that millions of people have seen by breast. So I feel fine flouting what I got. Will anybody die ? Any chance anybody will die ? Get sick ? even one in .000000009 ?
    But I will be fined and perhaps arrested if i show my stuff in public.
    But idiots think they can walk around town and infect people with a highly infectious fatal disease, and criticize the towns for infringing on their “liberties”. Guys can walk around without a shirt — why not me ?
    It’s a rhetorical question in this case, because I am a man.
    But to push it a little further , why can’t I walk down the street completely naked ?
    You freedom lovers should embrace that.

Comments are closed.