The newly approved ordinance requires that people cover their noses and mouths with a mask or cloth face-covering while inside public places. Violators face a $50 fine. 

But the order also allows people to remove their masks to eat or drink inside restaurants, and it exempts young children, people whose health would be negatively affected by wearing a mask, and anyone developmentally unable to comply with the order. 

People who can easily and continuously keep 6 feet of distance from other people also don’t need to wear masks, and businesses are not required to turn away unmasked customers. 

“[T]his time of year Block Island is overwhelmed with tourists from all over the country and elsewhere,” the ordinance reads, adding that the medical director of the Block Island Medical Center “has reported a continuing increase in the number of coronavirus cases on Block Island to the Town Council.”

The ordinance goes into effect Friday at noon, and it will be in place until the New Shoreham Town Council changes or formally ends it.

Alex Nunes can be reached at