Cloth face masks are the latest accessory, equal parts fashion and personal brand. You can get one with sequins. You can get one with a picture of Iron Man. You can get one with the Boston Bruins logo.
Despite so many colorful choices — and so many health officials and political figures urging us to wear them — a few are steadfast in their refusal to cooperate, as if this were all some silly meme.
Hence the next trend — local government orders demanding that anyone who ventures into public wear a face mask, or face the consequences.
On Tuesday, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera made his city the latest, with an emergency order calling for $300 in consequences for those caught out of compliance. That’s a steep fine indeed — $100 more than you’ll pay for not yielding to the rare pedestrian in a crosswalk anymore, and three times the fine for driving while texting.
The city’s order applies to anyone over 5 years old, in any public space, and it’s far from alone. A similar order went into effect in the town of Essex last Friday. Other communities, such as Peabody and Salem, have rules requiring people to wear masks inside grocery stores or any business that’s still open. In Peabody, violators could face a $1,000 fine.
The logic of wearing a cloth mask to prevent giving or receiving COVID-19 is established. It’s effective, if not perfect, and the attempt alone is an act of basic citizenship. So say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gov. Charlie Baker, who made the recommendation weeks ago.
Yet, here we are with people milling about in supermarkets and convenience stores, and on sidewalks, exposing their noses and mouths to the world.
Government orders and fines that will be out of reach for many offenders, let alone 6-year-olds, shouldn’t be necessary. Everyone should put on a mask when leaving the house, especially when headed someplace where they’ll encounter others. Those who don’t should feel the same shame that would be thrown upon them for daring to wear a Yankees cap in the bleachers at Fenway.
So, get a mask with a fancy print or sequins, or go with the standard issue from the pharmacy or hardware store (if you’re lucky). Failing that, craft one from a T-shirt or bandanna.
But, for your sake and that of everyone else, wear one.