Face Coverings

Updates

  • (5/11/20) The City of Cambridge are distributing free face masks at the Cambridge Police Department, which is located at 125 6th Street, 7 days a week between the hours of 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. or until daily supplies are depleted. Officers in every marked Cambridge Police cruiser will have a supply of masks to distribute if they encounter residents without them during calls for service. Additionally, Homeless Outreach Officers will have an available supply and will proactively seek out and provide masks to residents who may not have access to a mask. If residents or organizations are looking to buy or make their own masks and face coverings, please see below for more information.
  • (5/1/20) The Baker-Polito Administration has ordered all residents over the age of two to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not possible. Learn more.

 

Cambridge Face Covering Order

The City of Cambridge issued an emergency order requiring that face coverings be worn in all public places, businesses and common areas of residential buildings. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, and applies to everyone over the age of five years old, with exceptions in alignment with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control or Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Violations may be punishable by a $300 fine.

“While we are grateful to those in Cambridge who have been heeding our previous mask advisory and taking this issue seriously, we are concerned about the number of residents who continue to shop, walk, run and bike throughout the city without proper face coverings,” said Mayor Siddiqui and City Manager DePasquale in a joint statement. “We must all do our part in flattening the curve and make sure we are preventing the further spread of COVID-19. This mandate emphasizes the importance of wearing a face covering, not as an option, but as a requirement in our effort to combat this pandemic together.”

The order applies to everyone over five years old “without limitation, when on, in or about” public places, defined as:

  • Sidewalks
  • Streets
  • Parks
  • Plazas
  • Bus stops
  • Non-residential parking lots and garages
  • Any other outdoor area or non-residential parking facility which is open and accessible to the general public.

The mask requirement also applies to anyone working in or visiting an essential business, as well as shoppers and consumers. Masks must remain on throughout shifts or visits to those businesses. The businesses covered under the order, include:

  • Grocery stores or supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Laundromats
  • Dry cleaners
  • Hardware stores
  • Restaurants, cafes or similar establishments where prepared foods, meals or beverages may be purchased
  • Local government buildings
  • Commercial office buildings
  • All essential businesses defined in Governor Baker’s March 23, 2020 Executive Order

In residential buildings of two or more units when people cannot maintain a 6 foot distance, masks will be required prior to entering any common area, including:

  • Lobbies
  • Hallways
  • Elevators
  • Stairwells
  • Laundry rooms
  • Garages or parking lots
  • Walkways
  • Yards and other outdoor common areas
  • Mailrooms and other indoor common areas
 

The City’s Temporary Emergency Order Requiring the Wearing of Masks or Face Coverings in all Public Places, Businesses, and in Common Areas of Residential Buildings was amended on May 25, 2020.

 

Tips and FAQs

Is the City distributing masks?

The City of Cambridge announced a new initiative in which thousands of face masks will be distributed by members of the Cambridge Police Department to residents throughout the community beginning Thursday, April 30. The new initiative is in part made possible by a large donation of masks from the MA Chinese Community and FoGuang Buddhist Temple to the Office of Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.

Masks will be made available to residents on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last and quantities will be limited to the number of residents in a household. Masks will be made available at the following locations and through various city resources:

Meal Distribution Sites

Masks are available at the Cambridge Police Department, which is located at 125 6th Street, 7 days a week between the hours of 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. or until daily supplies are depleted. 

Officers in every marked Cambridge Police cruiser will have a supply of masks to distribute if they encounter residents without them during calls for service. Additionally, Homeless Outreach Officers will have an available supply and will proactively seek out and provide masks to residents who may not have access to a mask. 

Residents who already have masks and/or the resources at home to make cloth masks are encouraged to defer supplies to those residents and families who are most in need.


More information on face mask distribution is available here.

Why should I wear a face mask or covering?

While many Cambridge residents have been taking seriously all advisories to wear face masks, there are residents who continue to shop, walk, and run throughout the city without proper face coverings. There is data that suggests that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

 

Wearing a face covering may help people who are asymptomatic (they never experience symptoms) or presymptomatic (that is, they may have the virus yet don’t show any symptoms) from transmitting COVID-19 to others. Most non-medical face coverings are not intended to protect the wearer from getting sick.

 

It is vitally important to remember that a face covering does not replace frequent handwashing, avoiding touching the face or mask exterior, staying 6 feet from others when outside, and staying away from people who are ill. These are the most important and effective steps you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 


Does this Emergency Order apply to everyone in Cambridge?

This emergency order applies to all people over the age of 5, excluding those who:

  • Are 5 years old or younger
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Are unconscious, incapacitated, or not able to remove the mask without assistance. 

Face masks should be worn in all outdoor public locations when it is not possible to reliably and consistently maintain social distance (6 feet) and when entering any business open to the public. (See question below for more details.)


Do I need to wear my face covering or mask every time I go outside?

Mostly, yes.  Everyone over the age of 5 years old must  wear a mask or cloth face covering that covers both the mouth and nose at all times when in public and where others may be present. Public spaces include:

  • Sidewalks
  • Streets
  • Parks
  • Plazas
  • Bus stops
  • Non-residential parking lots and garages
  • Any other public outdoor area 
  • Nonresidential parking facility which is open and accessible to the general public

It is important that you keep your face covering on while outside if there is any reasonable chance of encountering another person. If you need to take off your face mask, make sure to keep it close by so that you can put it back on quickly and properly should you come into close contact with another person.

 

To take off your covering, grab the strings or loops, being very careful not to touch the front of the covering nor your eyes, nose or mouth.


Do I have to wear my mask inside as well as outside?

Yes, there are a number of indoor spaces where everyone who is able must wear a face mask or cloth covering.

 

In all places of business open to the public.

 

Everyone over the age of 5 must wear a face mask or covering when entering any business open to the public, including:

  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Laundromats
  • Dry cleaners 
  • Hardware stores 
  • Restaurants/ cafes or similar establishments where prepared foods/ meals or beverages may be purchased
  • Local government buildings 
  • Commercial office buildings 

 

You should wear your mask the entire time that you are inside these places of business just as you should while walking down the sidewalk.  All places of business are required to post signage at the entrances to their buildings informing the public that masks or cloth face coverings must be worn at all times inside (and outside nearby).

It is important that you not take off your face covering while inside the building. If you need to take off your face mask, make sure to keep it close by so that you can put it back on quickly and properly should you come into close contact with another person.

Employees, contractors, or visitors to a COVID-19 essential business

All employees, contractors, or visitors to COVID-19 essential businesses must wear a mask or a cloth face covering before entering any COVID-19 essential business and for the entire time that they are on the premises.  

In addition to wearing masks or face coverings, all essential businesses should continue to keep in place additional measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 including: 

  • Providing disposable gloves and hand sanitizer to all employees for use on items that are being sold, sent, or transported off-site.
  • Requiring employees to wash hands, even where gloves are worn, with soapy water at regular intervals (every thirty minutes for publicly accessible businesses) and providing handwashing stations.
  • Requiring employees to maintain a distance of 6 feet at all times practicable.
  • Screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to allowing them on work sites.
  • Ordering sick employees to stay at home.

Do I need to wear a mask inside if I live in an apartment building (or any location with more than one apartment)?

Everyone over the age of 5 years old who lives in an apartment building or location with more than one apartment should maintain proper physical distancing (also referred to as “social distancing”) in all common spaces by maintaining at least 6 feet between themselves and others. If you are not able to be at least 6 feet from others, then you must wear a mask in these common spaces, which include:

  • Lobby
  • Hallways
  • Elevators
  • Stairwells
  • Laundry rooms
  • Garage or parking lots
  • Walkways 
  • Yards
  • Other common outdoor and indoor areas shared by more than one apartment/townhouse when 6 feet of separation cannot reliably and consistently be maintained. 

 

All residential buildings are required to post signage in or near all common spaces regarding physical distancing and mask wearing.


What if I am unable to wear a mask due to a preexisting health condition or physical or mental disability?

If you are unable to wear a mask due to an underlying health condition, or a physical or mental disability (that prevents you from breathing properly or prohibits you from putting on and taking off your mask properly), please do NOT wear a mask. 

 

This includes people who:

  • Are 5 years old or younger
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Are unconscious, incapacitated, or not able to remove the mask without assistance. 

If you cannot wear a mask and need or want to go outside or to a place of business, please take important physical distancing precautions:

  • Maintain a safe separation of at least 6 feet from others while outside, as well as inside any office or other building.
  • Avoid crowds of any size.
  • Try to visit grocery stores and pharmacies when they are less crowded.

How do I properly wear a cloth face covering or mask?

All face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.
  • Allow for breathing without restriction (cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 5, persons who have trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance).
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape. 
  • Be frequently washed using a washing machine with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. They can also be hand washed with soap and warm water, and left to dry.

 

After wearing your face mask, you should remove it carefully, avoiding touching your nose, eyes, or mouth until the face covering has been properly disposed of or placed carefully away to be washed and you should immediately wash your hands after removal. 


Should I wear a face mask or covering while I exercise?

Yes! Everyone is required to wear a mask, even to exercise.

 

If you are exercising and need to remove your face covering to breathe adequately, make sure no one is near you before removing it. Be sure to keep the face covering readily available so you can put it back on quickly and properly if someone comes within 6 feet of you.

 

It’s also important for you to stay at least 6 feet away from others while you are exercising outside. Only engage in types of exercise that allow you to keep a 6 foot physical distance from others and that don’t require shared equipment or close contact with others.


What precautions do I need to take when removing my face mask or covering?

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water every time you put on and take off the face covering. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when you remove the face covering.
  • Do not put a used face covering in places where others can touch them or where germs trapped in your face covering can touch other surfaces, such as counter tops or a kitchen table.
  • Do not throw your face covering loose in a bag or backpack. Keep a paper or plastic bag with you to store your face covering if you will be taking it off when outside the house.

How often should I wash my face mask or covering?

It is recommended that you wash your face covering once a day by hand or machine using detergent. The face covering should be fully dry before using it again.  

 

Disposable “procedure” masks cannot be washed, but may be used in a 5-7 day rotation to allow viral particles to become non-viable on the outer surface of the mask. 


My organization wants to help make masks - how do we do that?

Face Masks for Cambridge is an effort to establish one central place for organizations and people in Cambridge to request handmade cloth face masks that are being sewn by local volunteers. This is a collaboration between Many Helping Hands 365, Mask Up, and the Cambridge Volunteer Clearinghouse with coordination support from the Cambridge Public Health Department. See the questions below for how you or your organization can give or get mask(s).Other sewing collaboratives are invited to join. Please email Deanna at the Cambridge Public Health Department at dewu@challiance.org for more information.

I sew masks - where can I donate them?

Face Masks for Cambridge is an effort to establish one central place for organizations and people in Cambridge to request handmade cloth face masks that are being sewn by local volunteers. This is a collaboration between Many Helping Hands 365, Mask Up, and the Cambridge Volunteer Clearinghouse with coordination support from the Cambridge Public Health Department. If you or anyone you know would like to sew masks and donate them to Cambridge nonprofits, please contact Emily Dexter at masks@cambridgevolunteers.org. Emily is coordinating this effort.

My organization needs masks - how can we get them?

If your organization is in need of masks, please submit your request through this Google Form. Groups involved in this effort can claim your request and someone will be in touch with you directly. 

I need a face covering - where can I get one? Is it possible for me to make my own face covering?

You can make your face covering easily at home by using a scarf, bandana or other cotton cloth. There are a number of easy “do it yourself” videos and instructions to help you make your own cloth face covering at home, including:

  • The CDC website has a few patterns, including one that involves a coffee filter and another that requires no sewing — just scissors and the willingness to sacrifice a T-shirt! Surgeon General Jerome Adams released a video of himself making a mask out of cloth and rubber bands.
  • Cambridge Health Alliance also offers a “how to” here.
  • A simple no-sew mask that has a bridge for your nose, which can help keep your glasses from fogging up.
  • Take the Choose Your Mask quiz. Answer a few questions to find an easy, no-sew mask you can make and feel comfortable wearing.
  •  

 

Homemade cloth masks can be found online. Look for ones made of cotton. If you order online, places like Etsy, which you can filter by location, allow you to support someone local and get a delivery more quickly. In addition, Esmeralda, a jewelry and accessory store in Harvard Square, sells masks for toddlers, kids, and adults via its online store www.EsmeraldaStore.com. They are delivering orders placed on their website to Cambridge customers within 24 hours. Cambridge Volunteer Clearinghouse has launched a BOGO (Buy One Give One) mask-raiser for individuals, starting at $10 per two masks. You can learn more here

In addition, you can request a mask through Mask Up by filling out their online form. Please note that Mask Up is a small organization and already is experiencing a high volume of requests, and there may be delays in mask delivery. 

Residents who already have masks and/or the resources at home to make cloth masks are encouraged to defer supplies to those residents and families who are most in need.


What is the evidence regarding face coverings as an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19?

The most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is through proper physical distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet between you and everyone else. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is also a necessary and highly effective way to limit or prevent the spread of the virus.

 

In very densely populated cities like Cambridge, it can be extremely difficult to regularly physically distance yourself from others. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we now know that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus don’t ever experience symptoms (they are asymptomatic) or have not yet developed symptoms (they are pre-symptomatic) and can transmit the virus to others..  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, talking, singing , yelling, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. 

 

Additionally, with observations that some people in Cambridge are not practicing physical distancing nor wearing masks when in close proximity to others, the City determined that wearing a face mask is a necessary step to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Cambridge and to flatten the curve.

 

The full Temporary Emergency Order may be found here.


 

Make Your Own Face Coverings

As a reminder, face covering is not a substitute for physical distancing and regular hand washing, which remain among the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. The single most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.

A face covering can be:

  • A mask
  • A scarf
  • A bandana
  • Made from a t-shirt or other cloth

 

Quick Cut T-Shirt Face Covering (no sew method)

Quick Cut T-Shirt Mask Instructions

 

Bandana Face Covering (no sew method)

Bandana Face Covering Instructions

More Information

 

Videos

How to Make Your Own Face Covering

ASL Use of Cloth Face Coverings

Page was posted on 3/18/2020 6:52 PM
Page was last modified on 5/27/2020 10:48 AM
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