Westfield Newsroom

Police seek ‘voluntary compliance’ from residents as new gathering orders put in place

WESTFIELD – The latest coronavirus related order by Gov. Charlie Baker to limit gatherings of people to 10 or less will be enforced by city police, if needed.

The Baker administration March 23 announced the new order, which includes the closure of all non-essential businesses and the order that residents should “stay at home.” In addition, the administration set forth new fines for those that don’t comply.

The first step is a warning, followed by a $300 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine or jail time for subsequent offenses.

Westfield Police Capt. Michael A. McCabe said he hopes it does not become an enforcement issue.

“What we want is voluntary compliance,” said McCabe. “The police department knows what the rules are, and we are looking for voluntary compliance – we’re all in this together.”

McCabe cited laws pertaining to “reasonable gatherings” of groups of people. In the case of Baker’s order, anyone congregating in excess of 10 people could be considered a disturbance of the peace.

The order has exclusions, including people in grocery stores, but social distancing practices of keeping at least 6-feet between people is urged.

“People should try to follow best practices set forth by our governor as well as our local experts,” said McCabe. “We don’t want to have to enforce this.”

McCabe said the Westfield Police website and Westfield Detective Bureau Facebook pages offer a link to a list of exempt businesses and workers.

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