Federal Mask Mandate Could Apply to Charlestown Sites

National Park Service officials in Charlestown are still awaiting guidance this week about what President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating masks and social distancing on federal property might mean for areas like the Monument and the Navy Yard.

Michael Creasey, superintendent of the National Parks of Boston, said they have reviewed the executive order and are hoping to get some clarification as to what it means for their properties in Charlestown and around Boston.

“We’re looking for better guidance on what this means for the Park,” he said. “It looks like we will probably get some guidance that people coming to the Park will have to have facemasks on, but we don’t have that guidance yet and don’t know for sure.”

The executive was published from the White House on Jan. 24 and was dubbed an order “Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing.”

“It is the policy of the Administration to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures,” read the order. “Such measures include wearing masks when around others, physical distancing, and other related precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Put simply, masks and other public health measures reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when communities make widespread use of such measures, and thus save lives.”

The memo accompanying the order indicated that “agencies should immediately require masks and distancing consistent with current CDC guidance in all Federal buildings.”

Just what constitutes a federal building or federal property will be what determines the new protocols up at the Monument or in the Navy Yard National Park areas. Additionally, how that will be enforced is also not exactly clear. The order also requires social distancing, and a good part of it is centered on protecting the workforce rather than putting a new rule on the public – though it is very specific about the conduct of visitors to federal buildings and federal property.

Creasey said all of their outdoor properties are open and have remained open throughout the pandemic. Already, mask-wearing is somewhat common in the Parks in Charlestown and social-distancing has been suggested for the many families that use the Monument in the summer and winter. The indoor facilities and Visitor’s Centers are open as well, and following the state regulations – which already requires masks and physical distancing and occupancy limits. In Charlestown Navy Yard, the National Parks, the USS Constitution, the Navy and the USS Constitution Museum work as a collaborative in deciding whether to open or close.

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