PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was a stunning spring Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia with lots of people taking all in outside, making it impossible in some spots to maintain six feet of social distancing. Many people who did leave home were met with a gentle warning from roving trucks featuring the police commissioner’s voice blaring through the loudspeaker.
More than 15,000 Philadelphians have tested positive for the coronavirus. There were 390 new COVID-19 cases reported on Saturday.
City leaders say the goal of those roving trucks isn’t to be threatening but to push people to do their part in flattening the curve.
Three mobile billboards drove around the city on Saturday, making stops in busy areas such as Rittenhouse Square. Residents saw and heard the mobile billboards from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
“This effort was really around how to get that message out,” Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.
From Kensington to northeast Philadelphia to southwest and West Philly and down to Center City and Rittenhouse Square, the City of Philadelphia had three mobile billboards make its way through multiple neighborhoods on Saturday.
City officials hope the words, “We must stay inside to stay together” and “#StayHomePHL” is a reminder to crowds outside on the sunny spring Saturday to practice social distancing.
“Stay apart, wear a mask and making sure we don’t see another resurgence of COVID-19,” Abernathy said.
Abernathy says the city decided to use the billboard trucks after videos surfaced on social media of large crowds congregating in public areas last week.
Aside from the words “stay at home,” the truck played a recorded audio message from Outlaw, reminding residents that the city is enforcing the stay-at-home order.
Eyewitness News shared video last weekend in a crowded Rittenhouse Square with Mayor Jim Kenney.
This weekend, Eyewitness News cameras captured a packed Kelly Drive and a busy Rittenhouse Square. Many residents, like Manuel Santiago, of Tacony, says it’s an obvious problem.
“I’ve had to go to work or grocery shopping, for that matter, the streets are packed,” Santiago said. “People are outside. People are driving. It does not feel like people are quarantined, that’s for sure.”
“This is really just a reminder that we’re not through yet, that we still have work to do and in to order to really be able to flatten that curve we need their help,” Abernathy said. “We need the public’s help to really be able to do that.”
Abernathy says the city could enforce the rules by issuing a $500 fine to people who are not social distancing, but the city doesn’t want to get to a place where they have to write tickets.