Published on: May 13, 2020

Cambridge, Peabody and Middleton, Massachusetts are mandating that individuals in multi-family residences including condominiums must practice social distancing in all common areas and where the same is not practicable or possible, to wear masks.  For the Peabody and Cambridge Ordinances [click here].  The Cambridge and Peabody ordinances allow for the municipality to fine non-complaint individuals $300 and $1,000 per occurrence, respectively.  Additional Cities and Towns in Massachusetts are expected to follow.

Some condominiums have questioned the authority to compel wearing of masks on private property.  While it could be subject to some constitutional challenge, there is likely a compelling state interest in protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public at large from a highly contagious communicable disease.  As a result, in communities where the wearing of masks is mandated by law, some condos have asked the question, should condos fine or seek enforcement against non-compliant individuals?  That is a tough call and it depends on the circumstances.  As a threshold matter, condominiums would be within their right to fine individuals for violation of health and safety laws.  The question is do they want to or need to go down that road.  Hopefully, owners will understand, perhaps after a little prodding or a warning or two that wearing a mask is for the greater good and fines or other enforcement measures (including contacting the authorities) will not be necessary.  Masks in condominium common areas are likely to be the new normal for a while.

Written by Ed Allcock