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Police in the town of Beverly, Mass., a suburb of Boston, has implemented the new rule on a half-mile stretch of the popular Lothrop Street along the beach.
“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. “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.”
The town of Beverly, like the rest of the state and most of the country, is under a stay-at-home order as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19. Massachusetts has seen at least 16,790 confirmed cases – the sixth hardest-hit U.S. state – and has recorded at least 433 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Essex County, which includes Beverly, has reported at least 2,103 cases and 50 deaths, according to the university’s tally as of Thursday morning.
The new rule, which was posted on flashing signs, asks residents to walk on sidewalks facing vehicle traffic. Anyone who violates the rule faces up to a $100 fine.
“We’re hoping we never have to go there, [that] people are being compliant,” LeLacheur said. “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.”
He said the concept seems to be catching on in other parts of the city, though police are not enforcing the rule there.
“This little thing about walking against traffic, it may hang over to when things eventually get back to normal,” he added.