MEMA: Use ‘best judgment' if you must drive; police should ‘interpret exceptions broadly'
PITTSFIELD -- Shortly after Gov. Deval Patrick a statewide driving ban after 4 p.m., the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency says drivers should use their "best judgment in determining if travel is permitted under an exception to the ban."
Police are being "asked to interpret the exceptions broadly; the objective is to limit traffic as much as possible while allowing critical public and private sector services and functions to use the roads as necessary," according to a statement MEMA posted on its website.
The driving ban, which was declared earlier in the day, angered some business owners in Pittsfield. Some of them took to Facebook to say it was bad for business. On Friday afternoon, snow had just started to accumulate in Pittsfield. Some of the eastern Berkshire towns had a couple inches on the ground. Eastern Massachusetts was expected to endure the brunt of the major winter storm.
State police in Cheshire said they have been getting calls from residents wondering if they absolutely must be off the roads at 4 p.m. The police were hoping for more clarification from the state.
The MEMA notice also lists a number of exceptions to the ban: "Driving ban in place starting at 4 p.m. All motorists MUST be off the roads except for public safety and public works workers, government officials conducting official business, utility workers, health care workers who must travel , news media. Travel also is allowed if necessary to maintain and deliver critical private sector services such as energy, fuel supplies and delivery, financial systems and the delivery of critical commodities, or to support business operations that provide critical services to the public, including gasoline stations, food stores and hardware stores. Motorists must use their best judgment in determining if travel is permitted under an exception to the ban. Law enforcement is being asked to interpret the exceptions broadly; the objective is to limit traffic as much as possible while allowing critical public and private sector services and functions to use the roads as necessary. Do not call 911 about the travel ban, phone lines are needed for emergency calls."
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