Town Board of Health Goes on Power Trip, Now Walking Wrong Way Can Be Punished


I don’t know about you, but I’m able to stay six feet away from people without the government telling me how to do it.

I can figure it out without rules, regulations, citations or fines. I never found it particularly difficult and I don’t need to be turned into a brainless automaton every time I walk out of my house, with every bodily action subject to the diktats of my local government.

The board of health in Beverly, Massachusetts, would disagree with me. They think I need to be told which way to walk. If I don’t walk in the right direction, I’m $100 lighter in the wallet thanks to an emergency order they passed.

According to WFXT-TV, Beverly now has one-way sidewalks on a stretch of a popular road. Walk the wrong way and you could be given a citation.

The rule is only being enforced on a half-mile stretch of a popular beach-adjacent street in the resort community, mind you, but that’s about a half-mile too much.

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See if you can spot the COVID cliches in these two paragraphs from WFXT: “As we continue to adapt to the new normal, we learn from trial and error what works and what doesn’t to keep people safe and healthy,” they reported Wednesday.

“Just like grocery stores enforcing one-way aisles for shoppers to promote social distancing, police in Beverly are now doing the same but with sidewalks on a popular stretch of road along the beach.”

All right. I understand that “the new normal” involves not going near someone on the basis that you don’t want to get a dread disease that can fill your lungs with fluid and leave them feeling like they’re laced with shards of glass. That said, this isn’t a supermarket, which has narrow aisles and is private property.

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This is a sidewalk.

And, as you can see in the video above, this is — at least the part that was shown — a pretty darn wide sidewalk. You could probably drive a Smart Car on it if you wanted to. In fact, the only thing preventing you from doing that is that you’d have to drive a Smart Car, and I can’t think of any way to make your limited time outside of the house worse than spending it in a vehicle that made the corpse of Henry Ford cry.

But no, apparently, this thing is so narrow that people are bumping into each other.

“In monitoring the area we noticed there was a tremendous amount of traffic with people walking into each other,” Beverly Police Chief John LeLacheur said. “[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.”

It’s times like these where I realize why Massachusetts was the only state in the union to vote for George McGovern back in the 1972 presidential election.

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With all due respect to Mr. LeLacheur, he’s the police chief in a town that thinks people can’t stop stumbling into each other on a huge sidewalk without a regulation to prevent them from doing it.

And, we’ve heard this a million times before — authorities hope never to fine anybody under this emergency order.

“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.”

In fact, they’ve stepped up patrols so that police officers can tell people why they’re supposed to only walk one direction and how this stops them from bumping in to one another. Because apparently, giving them a wide berth just wasn’t an option.

But wait — what about people who walk faster than the person in front of them? Might not they bump into that person if they pass them?

And remember, the elderly walk slow and they’re the ones most at risk from coronavirus.

So, new rule from the board of health: You can’t walk faster than the person in front of you. Better yet: You can’t walk faster than the median 72-year-older can. Any quicker than 2.1 miles per hour and you’re down a cool Benjamin, pal.

Of course, Beverly police hope never to have to go there, but they’ll be out on the street with radar guns checking your speed nonetheless. I’m sure all the comments they’ll get about this will be positive. After all, once people know why they’re asking them to do it, they’ll be down.

You can say I’m being unserious in the face of a deadly disease. Fine. I would ask you how serious you think Beverly’s COVID-19 preparations are when they’re expending some of their town resources on making sure people walk the same way on a sidewalk. This is blatant fatuity from the town board of health masquerading as actual concern for their constituents.

The Beverly Board of Health is either being over-officious in an attempt to make themselves feel better about a disease we can’t really control or tacitly admitting they believe they’re regulating a town where, in our new hand sanitizer-soaked reality, people can’t stop bumping into each other without government stepping in.

Either way, Beverly has much bigger problems than sidewalks.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture