Barrington requiring everyone to wear a mask in public

BARRINGTON, RI (WLNE) – Barrington’s town manager is taking extra steps to protect essential workers from the coronavirus by requiring everyone going into a store to wear a face mask.

Last month, the town council declared a state of emergency and gave authority to the town manager to “take measures he deems necessary in order to protect public health and safety.”

The original executive order required everyone to comply with social distancing, closed all non-essential businesses, and required everyone to stay home except for essential travel.

An amendment made by Town Manager Jim Cunha now requires everyone to wear a face mask in all commercial and government buildings.

“People are walking in those stores breathing in [workers’] face all day long,” Cunha said. “The mask is easy to find. You can use a scarf you can use a kerchief. But covering your nose and mouth when youre inside a building, a commercial building or municipal buildings, just made all the sense in the world to me.”

The amendment goes into effect on Wednesday and those who violate the order could face up to a $500 fine.

The order does not apply to things like exercise, or being outside at your home.

Since the original orders have been enforced, also punishable by up to a $500 fine, Cunha said nobody has been cited.

“I wouldn’t expect $500 fine. I wouldn’t expect a fine because I’m trusting that people are going to recognize this is for the good of the community,” Cunha said. “Most of our reports come in from residents who call in saying that someone is breaking the rules and they want the police to enforce it.”

Cunha is encouraging Barrington Police to only issue warnings unless someone is acting “belligerent.”

Cunha went around town on Tuesday telling businesses about the order and how it must be enforced.

For Kevin Ponte, general manager of the Ace Hardware in Barrington, he believes the ordinance will be beneficial for his workers.

“It’s been tough dealing with people without masks on and worrying about if theyre going to spread it to us,” Ponte said.

Ponte said he had already been complying with social distancing orders, and is prepared for this one as well.

“We will have to enforce it starting [Wednesday],” Ponte said. “We’ll have some masks, disposable masks up by the register so if customers do come in without it theyll be allowed to enter and we can just give them a mask.”

Cunha said a vast majority of businesses in Barrington have mask supplies to provide to customers.

He said this amendment expires on May 12, and if it’s necessary, he will extend it.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island