Beginning Friday, face coverings will be mandatory in Menemsha

An order approved at a joint meeting of the Chilmark board of health and selectmen Tuesday makes masks mandatory throughout the village.

The order is in effect from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and applies to an area beginning on North Road after the stop sign that intersects with Basin Road. Masks will be required in all parking lots, on all commercial and transient docks, on the road passing the Coast Guard station, on the jetty and when coming on and off the beach.

The mandatory mask rule will not extend to the Quitsa landing, although face coverings there are strongly encouraged and signs will be posted at the landing, selectmen said.

“In Menemsha, we’ve pretty much established that we need to take the next step and more strict and clear about our requirements,” board of health member Matt Poole said. “I’m not sure we are there yet with Quitsa. Let’s start with signage, and expand the order if it seems necessary.”

Beachgoers will be allowed to remove masks while sitting on the beach, as long as a six-foot distance is maintained. But masks are mandatory while coming and going from the beach. “Those entering and exiting the beach are going to have to mask up,” Mr. Poole said.

The order also emphasizes existing state guidelines that require businesses to mandate masks, post signs and makes businesses responsible for overseeing customers.

The order does not apply to children under the age of two, people with restricting health conditions or disabilities. It is enforceable by fines up to $300, although board of health member Jan Buhrman said the rule is not intended to be punitive.

“We are here to educate and encourage,” she said.

Selectmen put off hiring a public health ambassador, who will assist in educational enforcement, until next week.

The mandatory mask rule follows similar rules adopted by the Edgartown and Oak Bluffs boards of health for the congested downtown areas.

Mandatory face coverings have also been a subject of discussion at the Dukes County commission, which voted Monday to send a letter to Island selectmen and the Steamship Authority urging them to require masks — on board ferries and in all downtown areas.

“The health of our community is greatly at stake in these unprecedented times of this pandemic. It will require compliance of mask wearing by all to help stem the spread of this disease,” the letter said.

— Aaron Wilson contributed reporting.