As the coronavirus has people stuck at home due to social distancing, many people are going out for walks in order to get exercise. But, in an effort to enforce social distancing, a Boston suburb is now fining pedestrians for walking the wrong way on sidewalks.
According to a report from Wicked Local, the Board of Health in the city of Beverly, Massachusetts, “has ordered that all foot traffic on sidewalks be in one direction; pedestrians are advised to walk facing oncoming traffic at all times,” or face a $100 fine.
This story quite literally hit home for me because I grew up in Beverly, and it’s hard to imagine getting fined just for going out for a walk, but that’s apparently what the mayor has ordered.
“If you go out walking, please walk on the left side of the street facing traffic, otherwise you’ll keep walking into others, putting your health and theirs at risk,” said Mayor Michael P. Cahillin a reverse 911 call to residents earlier this week. “This includes on our sidewalks. Families, if you need to take walks or bike rides, please stay close to home, and please stay away from other people.”
The new order from the mayor applies to a half-mile stretch of the popular Lothrop Street alongside Dane Street Beach, a popular destination for walkers during the stay-at-home advisory.
“In monitoring the area, we noticed there was a tremendous amount of traffic with people walking into each other,” Beverly Police Chief John LeLacheur told Boston 25, a local news station. “We had to make changes, we had to come up with ideas. [The new rule] gives people the opportunity to keep that 6-foot distance.”
Flashing signs and posted notices on poles are being used to alert residents, as well as increased patrols of police. Police Chief LeLacheur says he hopes it won’t ever get to that point. “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.”
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis