Following close on the heels of Edgartown, the Oak Bluffs board of health voted Thursday to adopt a mandatory mask rule for a wide swath of the downtown area.

The emergency order takes effect Friday morning at 8:30. Mandatory mask areas will include the downtown area, the harbor district and Niantic Park.

“This is basically us saying you need to wear a mask and be smart. We’ll help you, we’ll educate you and give you a mask. I think we just have to remind people that we’re just like the rest of the world, we’re just as vulnerable to the virus and its spread,” board of health member Tom Zinno said.

Violators will be subject to an initial verbal warning, followed by $50, $100, $200 and $300 fines.

“It’s not a punitive thing, it’s an educational thing,” board of health chairman William White said.

Enforcement will be carried out by the town health agent and off-duty police officers who carry the title of community service officers.

“I think it’s a work in progress, we’re not going to get 100 per cent compliance, no community can,” health agent Meegan Lancaster said.

Discussion began at  a meeting Tuesday morning, when Mr. White said he had received calls and emails asking the board to enact a mandatory mask order after Edgartown enacted a similar order last week.

“I think it’s important for the public to be aware that the board, based on public health and perception, vote on making masks mandatory,” Mr. White said.

Mr. Zinno agreed. “When you look at it nationally, everyone has been moving toward mandatory masks,” he said. “The virus is expanding and we have so many people coming from all these different places. In order to keep us safe and keep them safe, it’s a simple solution.”

Health agent Meegan Lancaster concurred, but she said because a vote on the mask order was not originally on the board’s agenda, they would need to post a new meeting to formally enact the order.

A new meeting was posted for Thursday, when the emergency order was adopted.

The board of health also plans to add more signs throughout the downtown area.