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Revere mayor urges beachgoers to practice social distancing

By Elyse Carmosino | April 2, 2020

REVERE — Visitors to Revere Beach Saturday were greeted by the sounds of mayor Brian Arrigo shouting into a bullhorn, urging beachgoers to observe social distancing guidelines while he slowly drove along the boardwalk in a mobile City Hall van.

“A lot of people were acting like it was a normal day,” he said. “These are not normal times. We do have to practice social distancing and we shouldn’t be out and about if we don’t have to be.”

He said his beach visit was borne out of concern that some residents aren’t taking the COVID-19 global health crisis seriously. 

“(My team and I) were thinking about the fact that we’ve been communicating so much about the need to stay home and not congregate. It felt like a lot of that was falling on deaf ears,” he said. “In my mind, drastic times call for drastic measures.”

Arrigo and his City Hall team brainstormed tactics they thought might get people’s attention. 

“We came up with the idea of, ‘what if I go down there with a bullhorn and drive kind of slow and remind people not to congregate. (Remind them) that they should stay home if they can,” he said, adding that he wanted to remind people social distancing measures are meant to protect first responders, seniors, and other vulnerable populations. 

The team then decided to take Revere’s mobile City Hall van — which is typically used for community outreach efforts — to get the message across. 

“There were actually a lot of people waving at first,” he said. “Like, ‘hey, hello, what are you doing?'”

Visitors eventually got the message, however.  

“After we passed a couple times, people were giving a thumbs-up like they understood the message and were breaking up,” Arrigo said. 

As of Tuesday evening, Revere has 140 reported cases of COVID-19, up from just eight cases last week. 

Since March 12, the city has issued daily information about the rapidly evolving crisis through various channels, but Arrigo says some people simply won’t listen. 

In addition to Arrigo’s efforts at Revere Beach, the city announced a new campaign Wednesday focusing on the critical role every Revere resident plays in slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

Stay Home, Save Lives will include a series of virtual town halls, a city-wide mailer with information and resources, a city-wide CodeRed alert that will highlight the urgency of the situation, and Revere’s mobile City Hall will travel through neighborhoods to broadcast important information to residents. 

“All of these efforts, in addition to ongoing daily updates from the Mayor’s office, are being put in place as it becomes critically important for all Revere residents to abide by the Commonwealth’s Stay at Home advisory,” a statement from City Hall read. 

Although Arrigo worries about the public health risks of beachgoers congregating in large groups, he made it clear residents are still free to spend time outdoors — as long as they continue to practice social distancing. 

“If you can take a walk in your neighborhood or enjoy a nice day, (that’s OK),” he said. “My concern is people coming to Revere Beach to just hang out. 

“My job is to make sure the residents of this city are protected, and they know that I’m fighting for them … We’re just trying to take measures to make sure people aren’t congregating. If people are out throwing a football around, that’s not good social distancing.”

When asked if he had a final message he wanted to send to Revere residents, Arrigo simply said: “Stay home. Just stay home.”