Officials in Salem and Londonderry are asking the public to stop leaving discarded masks and disposable latex gloves in streets and parking lots, as more people use the protective gear during shopping visits to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Salem Deputy Police Chief Joel Dolan said in a statement Monday that gloves and masks should be properly disposed of in trash cans and other kinds of waste receptacles.
"In the recent weeks, we've noticed an increased number of improperly disposed gloves in the parking lots around town," Dolan said. "While we encourage residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves from COVID-19 should they need to leave their homes, improperly disposed of face masks and gloves poses both a health and environmental risk to our community."
Residents have turned to community Facebook groups lately to complain about the increasing spread of blue rubber gloves dotting Market Basket and Walmart parking lots in town and elsewhere.
“A lot of it is at supermarket parking lots,” said Londonderry Police Capt. Patrick Cheetham.
He said the littering is causing extra work for store employees and may also pose a health risk.
“While no one is complaining to LPD, tThese stores are already taxed with being busy, and now they have to have staff diverted to cleaning the parking lots to make sure they’re clean and sanitary,” Cheetham said. “It’s creating more work and potentially putting them at risk.”
Cheetham said they started noticing the litter appear about seven to 10 days ago, and people have been complaining about it on Facebook.
On the Londonderry Police Facebook page, the department congratulated residents Monday for getting a head start on their spring cleaning and yard work, and highlighted some signs with positive messages people have posted around town, but cautioned that they’re still seeing an uptick in used gloves on the roadways.
They posted a photo of some blue latex gloves on the pavement with the hashtag “#notokay.”
In their statement, Salem police said residents may consider keeping a plastic or paper trash bag in their car to put used gloves and masks in if a trash can is not immediately available.
While the Centers for Disease Control issued guidance on April 3 that people wear cloth masks as a precaution when they need to leave the house, gloves are not recommended by the CDC at this time.