Gov. Charlie Baker’s statewide mandatory face mask order could thrust the cautious Republican into an already-roiling battle about personal liberties during the coronavirus pandemic as cooped-up, jobless residents across the nation protest the mandate.
Some officials have faced fierce pushback after issuing a mask mandate, and two almost immediately recanted their order after beleaguered constituents revolted.
Stillwater, Okla., Mayor Will Joyce quickly ditched his face covering emergency order on May 1 after customers unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse and threats of physical violence.
“I knew there would be some objections, but I did not expect physical confrontations with employees and threatening calls to city hall,” wrote Mayor Joyce on Twitter, who instead encouraged retail customers to wear masks.
“I hate that our businesses and their employees had to deal with that abuse today, and I apologize for putting them in that position,” he wrote.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also shifted his face mask order, admitting Sunday that his statewide face mask requirement issued last week went, “too far.”
“It became clear to me that that was just a bridge too far. People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do,” said DeWine during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
Baker, no stranger to shifting course based on the political winds, will face a “Liberty Rally,” opposing the many COVID-19-related government mandates at the State House on Monday at 2 p.m The rally will be held by the same group behind the Boston Straight Pride Parade.
The Swampscott Republican can always point out that municipal leaders like Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone had already announced they’d fine residents for failing to wear a face mask in public. The state order simply expands a policy already in place.
“This is going to be a way of life,” said Baker, who announced the order Friday as part of the state’s reopening guidelines. “If everybody’s wearing a mask, it will dramatically reduce the opportunity and possibility of spread.”
No matter who issued the order, there are already complaints about the idea of a hefty $300 fine if caught outside without a mask.
“Our rights are being trampled on in Massachusetts!!! Shutdown until May 18? $300 fines for NOT wearing a face mask out in public, even in the open air??? I won’t wear one, nor pay a fine! This is ridiculous,” wrote @dawnmariew1971 on Twitter.
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