By Beth Germano

HAVERHILL (CBS) – The Haverhill City Council has passed an emergency ordinance allowing police to fine anyone who fails to comply with social distancing guidelines to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Mayor James Fiorentini hopes it sends a strong message about the need to be six feet apart and not gather in groups over ten people. He says police needed an enforcement tool.

“We’re hoping it’s a symbolic measure. We don’t want to fine anyone, we want everyone to stay safe,” Fiorentini tells WBZ-TV.

Fines will start at $50 for a first offense, $100 for a subsequent offense and $300 for three or more.

“The first thing is voluntary compliance. If that doesn’t work we can fine them, but it would be a last resort,” said Fiorentini.

Jeremy Tabb, who walks frequently near Plug Pond, which the council says has been the scene of people gathering in large groups, believes fines might be a little heavy handed, but it gets attention. “At the end of the day if it comes to that so be it until people start paying attention,” said Tabb.

There are also potential fines in the city of Beverly as city officials are now asking that all foot traffic be in one direction on some popular streets so pedestrians don’t cross paths.

Beverly Mayor Michael Cahill says pedestrians need to stay to the left on sidewalks facing traffic whether they are coming or going. “What we don’t want is people out for a walk to get some peace of mind and there are people walking into them or running into them. There are conflict points on the street,” said Cahill.

Lothrop Street has been a targeted area of enforcement. Cahill says it’s trying to be creative to keep people safe. “Everything we try, if it works a little bit, it will help flatten the curve,” Cahill said.

Beth Germano

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