HOBOKEN — The City Council is considering adopting a $250 fine for people who do not wear a mask outdoors.

An ordinance was introduced and approved in its first reading at the council's meeting on July 29 after Mayor Rhavi Bhalla called for city departments to enforce Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders mandating the use of face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

The fine would be imposed in cases of "chronic disobedience or disorderly conduct," according to the mayor.

Educating the public about the mandates would be the first step.

"It’s something that hopefully will be in the city’s tool kit to contain the virus. Right now, we have formed an ad hoc COVID special unit consisting of various departments within the city of Hoboken to enforce the governor’s mandate in a way that is not heavy handed but that really emphasizes public education,” Bhalla said.

Employees for the Office of Emergency Management, police, members of the city's COVID-19 taskforce, code enforcement officers and the zoning department would be empowered to enforce the ordinance.

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City Councilman Phil Cohen told CBS New York that compliance has been low in areas that attract many visitors, such as the waterfront area.

Not all members are in favor of the measure. Councilman Michael Russo told CBS New York he is concerned about enforcement, especially for improper wearing, and thinks the ordinance goes too far.

The City Council's next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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