Burleigh N. Muten: A few signs about wearing masks won’t cut it

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I’m writing this on the first day of a mandatory face covering policy in downtown Amherst.

I drove through town and saw about 50 people wearing masks. Nine of the 10 bare-faced folks in this four-block district not wearing masks were young people. College students arriving early? High school students? The other defiant person was an elderly man with his mask blatantly propped on his forehead, smoking a cigarette.

And where is the enforcement of this policy? None in sight. According news accounts last week, police officers will only be called in on an as-needed basis. Come on, Paul Bockelman, Amherst town manager, why aren’t police visible to remind folks, to motivate them, to warn and fine them?

Where’s the motivation when no one but a few brave citizens are there to call out this important breech in a policy that’s designed to protect our community. I hope town government will do more than be “called in on an as-needed basis” when UMass students arrive in a few weeks. Consequences create motivation.

Our little town that has remained impressively healthy for the past six months is about to suffer high spikes in illness if the Board of Health requirement isn’t enforced by town authorities. A few signs posted ain’t gonna do it.

Burleigh N. Muten