WESTFIELD NJ — Parking enforcement officers are giving out a different kind of ticket in Downtown Westfield these days — gift cards to downtown businesses as reward for getting “caught” wearing a face mask.

The program, which will run at least through Labor Day, is paid for by the Downtown Westfield Corporation to encourage people to protect each other from the coronavirus by wearing a mask while walking around downtown.

“It’s kind of a two-for-one,” said Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the DWC. “We get to promote mask-wearing downtown, and we’re also promoting the business that the gift card is for.”

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Zuckerman thought up the idea after Mayor Shelley Brindle shared with him emails from concerned residents who said they felt reluctant to go downtown after seeing people there without masks.

“I thought, can we come up with a carrot instead of a stick to get people to comply?” said Zuckerman, who based his plan off of similar programs that encourage people to wear bike helmets. “I ran the idea by our board, and everyone loved it.”

People of all ages are being “caught” wearing a mask and rewarded, he said.

“If you wear a face mask downtown, you never know — you might be a winner.”

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