Our Opinion: Follow order on facial covering

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Gov. Baker's executive order requiring residents to wear facial coverings in public takes effect today. It is, as the governor said in issuing the directive last week, "common sense" in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The masks and facial coverings are mandatory in grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail stores. Retailers are allowed to deny entry to those not wearing facial covering. They are also mandatory in parks and on sidewalks where people have difficulty staying at least six feet apart.

This is going to be an adjustment for the many in Berkshire County who have not been wearing facial coverings even though the Centers for Disease Control recommended it on April 24. For those who haven't been doing so, the point of the executive order is primarily to protect people from those who have the virus but are not yet symptomatic. The coverings can be handmade, as many already are, because masks can be hard to come by. The order applies to everyone over the age of two and makes exceptions for those with medical conditions that preclude the wearing of facial coverings.

Those not covering their faces in public can be subject to a fine of $300, although the governor is leaving enforcement up to communities. We don't see financially troubled towns and cities setting up mask patrols but police officers could offer stern rebukes to those they encounter who are not following the order.

A new Suffolk University/Boston Globe, WGBH poll found that Massachusetts residents continue to solidly support safety measures in place to combat the virus even if they must last longer. This speaks well of state residents at a time when so many states are prematurely opening up businesses and putting their citizens at risk. Berkshire public and health officials and many residents are facing this pandemic with the gravity it deserves, and wearing facial coverings in public is a crucial part of the fight against the further spread of this virus, and will be for the foreseeable future. We urge everyone who hasn't been wearing facial covering to begin doing so today.

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