Two social distancing signs in South Kingstown stirring controversy

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI (WLNE) – With large crowds expected in South Kingstown for Memorial Day weekend as three beaches in the town are open, officials are posting up yard signs on beach access roads to remind people about social distancing.

South Kingstown’s town beach, Green Hill Beach, and East Matunuck State Beach will all be open this weekend.

Some of the signs are nothing out of the ordinary.

“All we are saying is give space a chance,” one of the signs reads.

“We love you this much,” another says with a stick figure implying a distance of six feet.

There are nine different signs in total.

But two of these signs are stirring a little bit of a debate, as one of the reads “mask it or casket,” while the other said “six feet over or six feet under.”

Town Manager Rob Zarnetske said with the crowds that are expected to come, it’s vital that people are reminded about safe practices.

“Masks are saving lives. And social distancing, being six feet away, is, in fact, a practice that is saving lives,” he said. “These messages are designed to be sort of jolting in some cases and designed to be funny in others. Just reminders.”

The important thing, according to Zartnetske, is to make sure it’s a safe holiday weekend.

“It’s being honest. I mean the truth is we need to be continuing good social distancing practices in order to reduce the number of illnesses and the number of deaths,” he said.

Some residents like Mary Kehoe believes all the signs, including the two, are a great way to remind the public that we are still in a pandemic.

“It brings a little humor as well as getting the message across strongly. So I like them,” Kehoe said. “It brings the point home very strongly. So I think it’s needed. I think the point is needed.”

Other residents like Claudette McLinn believes it’s a little harsh.

“You can get a message across very nicely without scaring people. You know, there’s so much death around,” she said.

The town began putting in all nine signs Friday afternoon.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island