NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WHSM) -- The City of Northampton has made changes to their face mask policy - effective today.

It's now mandatory for people to wear face coverings in most public places, whether they're six feet apart or not, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The new order requires people to wear masks while at parks and outdoor places.

That means anyone on any bike path or trail must wear a mask. This includes the Mass. Central Rail Trail.

The order also covers anyone outside in downtown Northampton and the Florence Center in their business district.

Mayor David Narkewicz spoke to Western Mass News about why they made this change.

"There was a lot of confusion around it because it said you need to wear a face mask in public unless you can socially distance and so I think that kind of created this giant loophole and people felt like 'We'll just socially distance' and won't ever wear a mask or bring a mask with people in public," Mayor Narkewicz noted.

Western Mass News also checked in with the city's police chief to see how they will be helping the public.

"We know that this is a new world that we are in right now and it is a big change so there’s a learning curve here when people don’t know when they have to have face coverings...so we are just trying to educate people on that," said Northampton Police Chief Jody Casper.

Violators of this face mask order face a $300 fine.

Health experts said if you don't have a mask, a bandanna or a scarf will work.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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