Easthampton institutes mask mandate

  • Easthampton Municipal Building GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/1/2021 6:35:45 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A new mask mandate has been put into place in the city, in response to increased COVID-19 cases and the spread of the delta variant.

The mandate, passed by the Board of Health on Tuesday, goes into effect Thursday. The city joins Northampton, Hadley and Amherst in recently declaring new mask mandates.

“I think it makes good sense,” said Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, who expressed her support for it.

She also noted that masks are very effective at preventing the disease.

The mandate requires masks or face coverings in public indoor spaces, and outdoors in gatherings where more than 100 people are expected and social distancing can’t be maintained, as well as on the sidelines, on the benches and in the dugouts of moderate-to-high-risk team sporting events involving contact. Masks are also highly recommended at all times in high-risk sports, which include football, rugby and basketball.

Exemptions to the mandate include being able to remove masks while eating and drinking at restaurants while seated, employees in a shared office space if social distancing of 6 feet or more can be maintained, and performers singing or using brass or wind instruments at an event, provided that they socially distance at least 10 feet from the public.

Easthampton Public Health Director Bri Eichstaedt said the 14-day daily average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in Easthampton was 0.4 for six weeks, but the latest numbers have it at 17.5.

“Just a steep increase,” said Eichstaedt.

Eichstaedt said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant is twice as transmissible and requires multiple layers of protection to combat, such as both masks and vaccines.

“It’s not one or the other,” she said.

She also said that the health department has received widespread support for a mask mandate, with a number of businesses asking them to turn the city’s previous mask advisory into a mandate.

The person or entity responsible for a public indoor space is responsible for enforcing the mandate, and failure to uphold it may result in a fine of no more than $1,000.

Eichstaedt said the vaccine is working, especially in preventing severe illness and death in breakthrough COVID-19 cases.

“If anyone needs a vaccine, they can contact us,” she said, noting that the health department also has masks available.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy