A TOWN in Massachusetts is trying to crack down on the coronavirus spread — so they’re fining anyone who walks the “wrong way” on the sidewalk, according to their new rules.
Officials in Beverly, a suburb of Boston, are asking residents to practice social distancing by walking on sidewalks, located near a nearby beach, that face vehicle traffic.
Those who don’t follow the rule can face a $100 fine.
Beverly Police Chief John LeLacheur told WFXT: “In monitoring the area we noticed there was a tremendous amount of traffic with people walking into each other.”
“[So], we had to make changes we had to come up with ideas. [The new rule] gives people the opportunity to keep that six-foot distance.”
The rule applies to more than a half-mile stretch of the popular Lothrop Street along the beach, between Hale and Stone Streets.
Signs with information about the new rule have been posted on poles throughout the town, and police have put up a flashing sign that warns residents to “walk against traffic.”
The police chief said the town’s board of health issued an emergency order to allow police to cite those who don’t comply with the policy.
“We’re hoping we never have to go there, [that] people are being compliant," LeLacheur told the news outlet.
“All the comments we’ve gotten so far have been positive – now that they know this is what we’re asking them to do they’re doing it.”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a statewide stay-at-home order, and recently extended it until May 4.
The order has closed nonessential businesses and limits social gatherings to 10 people or less.
"The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in this battle," the governor recently said. "Everyone needs to play their part. People need to stay at home as much as possible."
But despite the order and the coronavirus outbreak, police in Beverly say the area along the beach has been popular among residents.
LeLacheur says officers have stepped up patrols around the area and have explained to people why the rule is in place.
Local officials in Brookline, which is closer to Boston, are reportedly considering a temporary expansion of some sidewalks.
Authorities are considering making some streets one-way, which would allow one lane to be used for more walking space or a place to ride bikes.
As of Friday afternoon, Essex County, where Beverly is located, had more than 2,330 coronavirus cases, and at least 50 people have died from the virus.
The state of Massachusetts has nearly 19,000 cases and more than 500 total deaths.
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