May 11, 2020
On various social media forums this week, there have been several questions regarding the closure of the Hingham school parking lots. To put an end to speculation, the Anchor caught up with Chief Olsson to get the scoop on what public spaces are closed and why.
Anchor: Thanks for chatting with us, Chief Olsson. Can you tell us what's going on with these new closures, specifically school parking lots?
Chief Olsson: Governor Baker issued a stay at home advisory in early March. He requested that people limit their outside activities, maintain social distance and wear masks when not able to maintain six-feet of distance. During this time, we were asked to close public fields and properties. The Governor, Mayors and, local leaders have been publicly asking people to abide by the rules or areas would be closed. We have seen beaches, state parks, sporting parks, and other public areas shut down because people were not obeying the rules.
The Hingham public schools and all of their surrounding fields are closed. The town has shut down all its fields as well. Over the past month, we have continued our efforts to socialize and educate the public about proper distancing and wearing of face covers while in public.
Anchor: What was happening that warranted the new changes?
Chief Olsson: The Governor reissued his order and set greater parameters around the use of masks. During our staff meetings, and officer meetings on Zoom, I continued to get reports that residents are ripping the field closure signs down and/or that people are ignoring the signs. We are also getting reports about people are not abiding by social distancing and not wearing masks. Myself and many town officials have witnessed people not taking this seriously.
Officers have requested assistance in an attempt to better meet the Governor's orders short of issuing civil citations. It is also very frustrating when the million-dollar High School field is closed and surrounded by a fence, but we have to keep removing individuals that are trespassing. We have secured other areas such as tennis and basketball courts only to have the zip ties cut by people.
Anchor: We understand that Wompatuck is under State management, but since they are still open, are people following the rules there?
Chief Olsson: The State recently instituted a policy of limiting the number of people at Wompatuck State Park because of people ignoring social distancing and the wearing of face covers. If people have traveled a distance to get to Wompatuck State Park and find that they are unable to get in, it won’t be long before the issues at the High School become worse due to the proximity to the park.
Anchor: What can we as a community do to help keep ourselves and others safe?
Chief Olsson: We fully understand that that residents are concerned but our rules are designed to protect the public's wellbeing. We ask everyone to have patience and make an extra effort to practice social distancing and to wear face covers. We need more time to get this pandemic under control, and that means everyone has a role to play.
We have seen some compliance of people wearing masks but drive down Main street and see how many people are out walking without masks. I see people all the time side by side walking or jogging without a mask that jog by and around people walking -- the same for people walking in parks. Please bring a mask with you and cover up when you are passing or encountering other people that you can’t keep a social distance. We are asking that you do your part and have a mask with you.