The city of Boston will be enforcing the new statewide order to wear masks or face coverings despite it being "somewhat bothersome" to take up police officers' time with the matter, Mayor Marty Walsh said Saturday in a TV interview.
Gov. Charlie Baker's new order requiring Massachusetts residents to wear face coverings when they're in public and can't maintain adequate social distance goes into effect on Wednesday, May 6. It carries a fine of up to $300, but Baker said he's largely leaving enforcement up to cities and towns, some of which had already put their own fines in place.
Walsh didn't say how he plans to enforce the order when he discussed the issue in an interview on CNN Saturday, a day after he criticized young people who haven't been wearing masks "because it doesn't look cool."
Somerville, Cambridge, Belmont and a number of other cities and towns have already put in place their own fines for not wearing face coverings, but until Saturday, Walsh had publicly considered the measure a last resort.
"I was hoping people would take the responsibility themselves," he said in the interview. "Clearly there are too many cases and situations where that's not happening."
Officials and public health experts have urged people to wear masks in public as a protective measure for others. A significant portion of people infected with the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,700 people in Massachusetts, don't have symptoms and don't know they're infectious.
Walsh reiterated criticisms he made this week of people at supermarkets or exercising outside not wearing masks.
He said the worst part about having to enforce the order is taking up police officers' time: "enforcing face masks when they should be doing other things is somewhat bothersome" but the city will do it, Walsh said.
The mayor's interview touched on several other subjects, including the city's finances amid the pandemic. He was asked about a recent comment from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about local leaders nationwide needing to think about furloughing city workers if they don't get federal assistance.
"As of right now, we're not looking at furloughs," Walsh said, noting that Boston is in the midst of its budgeting process and has already reduced its plans since drawing them up.
He noted that taxes and fees the city collects to fund the budget are down across the board, "virtually zero in some cases," which will necessitate cost-cutting.
"The investments that we planned six months ago certainly won't be there," Walsh said. "We have to be careful with our costs."