by Kerry Dougherty

Two weeks ago, when Gov. Ralph Northam issued his over-reaching stay-at-home order that closed Virginia beaches to anyone not exercising or fishing until June 10, a young father politely emailed the Norfolk police for guidance.

I’ve deleted his full name and email address for privacy reasons. I have seen the emails. I know the father. The little girl is my granddaughter.

Sent Monday, March 30


I live in Ocean View right on the beach. My four-year-old daughter and I have been walking out on the beach in the afternoons to get outside, get a little exercise, walk the dogs, and I run pretty regularly. I saw in the governor’s mandate that the beaches will be closed except for fishing and exercise, but I wonder what that means for just sitting outside by ourselves on the beach. Are we not allowed to walk over the dune and dig in the sand just to get outside? or dip our toes in the water? Or I guess I should say, are you guys really going to enforce this so that we would be ticketed? We of course would continue to practice the usual social distancing, as we have over the past two weeks. Additionally, could I not sit on the beach in a beach chair to read a book, of course staying away from others outside?

I hope you can provide some clarification as to how this is realistically going to be enforced. Thank you.

Best wishes, and stay healthy,


The reply:


From: Pickering, William <>

Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 10:44:18 AM

To: John>

Subject: RE: Beach Closing Enforcement Question

Good morning,

You may continue to enjoy the beach with your daughter as long as you remain six feet away from those who are not a part of your household. I have attached an FAQ published by the Governor’s Office that highlights the important of social distancing while out in public as well as not being in groups of 10 or more people. If, for any reason, an officer approaches you regarding this matter, please don’t hesitate to let them know that you corresponded with me. For up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 in Virginia, please visit: Thank you for your time.

City of Norfolk – COVID19 FAQ

Sgt. William D. Pickering Jr.
Norfolk Police Department
Public Information Office

That was a cordial reply containing a common-sense interpretation of Northam’s extreme edict.

On Saturday, this father and his 4-year-old daughter ventured onto the beach where the little girl plopped down and did what children have been doing forever: she played in the sand. And he did what parents have done forever. He sat beside her.

The father tells me there were only a few people in sight. No one closer to them than 200 yards.

Still, a police boat was plying the water. The next thing the young father knew, three police officers roared up on ATVs and told him he had to leave.

No sitting on the beach, they said.

The dad explained that he had an email on his phone, indicating that taking a small child on the beach and letting her play was permitted.

New rules from on high, they told him. Get off the beach or get moving.

“They appeared to be sweeping the beach,” the father told me.

Not wanting a confrontation, this dad and his disappointed daughter fled the nearly deserted beach on a beautiful spring afternoon.

For no good reason. They harmed no one. Threatened no one’s health.

Disturbed no one.

What happened to these two on Saturday undoubtedly happened to others.

This is unnecessarily authoritarian behavior by the Norfolk police that did absolutely nothing to protect the public’s health or safety.

Continued harassment and bullying of ordinary people doing ordinary things will do nothing but fuel resentment toward law enforcement.

And the boneheaded governor who set this ominous nonsense in motion.

This post was published originally at

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44 responses to “No More Sand Castles”

  1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Stupid cops = stupid law? Only in the minds of, huh, let’s just say, journalists.

    I can think of one good reason to join with Kerry and call for the end the lockdown. I have always believed that mankind will face an extinction level event. I’m 68 years old, lived through MAD, Global Warming is taking too long, comets and asteroids are too low in probability, so this pandemic may be my best opportunity to be there to see it when it happens.

    So, I’m with you Kerry, Let’s end the madness.

  2. The pandemic is madness. Responding to it with restrictions on public gatherings is not. I cannot excuse the rigid interpretation given to any rule for public behavior by a overzealous or harried police officer, but Kerry D. lost me when she tacked on the phrase, “the boneheaded governor who set this ominous nonsense in motion.”

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      I agree with Acbar. And disagree with Kerry.

      Two natural forces are here at play.

      Significant portions of any cohort of people have a problem exercising authority. One portion is far too lax. Another is far too rigid and strict. Fascist states and cults are easily formed, indeed the norm, not the exception. The culprit here in this case is the local police chief, and/or his subordinates. There is manifestly a lack of training, and discipline, and perspective on this police force in these cases. It needs to be fixed forthwith.

      The second force is a bit more illusive. Now that the heavy threat of mass death appears to be lifting, some among us want to jump all over those who likely played a strong and positive roll in fixing that heavy threat, and/or greatly diluting the threat when the going was tough or potentially so. But instead be cute about it. Or take undue advantage of it, now that they can more easily do so, without being proved fools. Look out for this natural tendency among us. It is growing daily.

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      “but Kerry D. lost me…”

      Be grateful, that means you’re of sound thought.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    If you are a policeman and you see a crowd on the beach and you go ask why they are there – many of them will likely say ” I saw some others here and thought it was okay for me to be here also”.

    So how would you keep a crowd from doing that?

    You nip it in the bud.

    If you don’t do that and the news shows a crowd on the beach and you were the police on duty there – you butt is going to be in a sling.

    There are always those who don’t like rules and so they will work to find a way to “loophole” them and when caught do a “who me?”.

    People hate this and who can blame them, this has got to be some version of purgatory if there ever is one.

    Patience and discipline is not our strong point and police get turned into school teachers dealing with the rebellious.

  4. djrippert Avatar

    Never waste a crisis. Wasn’t that what one of Obama’s lackeys said around the recession of 2009? Guess what? We have another crisis and liberals have no intention of wasting this crisis either. Doubt me? As Chicago releases convicted criminals ahead of time do you think that liberal government sees fit to inform the local police who is being released?

    Government screws up almost everything it touches. More government = more screw ups. The only increased chance of spreading COVID-19 in the story told in the post happened when the jack booted thugs of the local police decided to harass a four year old child and her father on the beach.

    I mean the Patriot Act has been repealed right?

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      I love you guys. All of my life I have heard Conservatives cry, “We’re spending our children’s futures.” Turns out that what I thought was a warning from youse guys was really just a statement of intent.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Good Lord Nancy! I bet you liked to poke wasp nests as a kid!


        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          Lord no. Picket fences and big dogs.

    2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      “The only increased chance of spreading COVID-19 in the story told in the post happened when the jack booted thugs of the local police decided to harass a four year old child and her father on the beach.”

      When Don is good he’s very good.

  5. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    As an aside, if this man does indeed live “right on the beach” then it is probable that his property line extends to mean high water, so a “keep off the beach” order cannot apply to him unless he ventures off of his property to the side. Plenty of sand there for his kid. In fact, he should have asked the cop to leave.

    See news stories about property owners putting up fences in Hampton and Oceanview and the resulting Va.. Supreme Court ruling.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    So here you go:

    ” An Illinois mayor ordered police to enforce the stay-at-home order. They did — and busted his wife at a bar.”

  7. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    On this one, I need to side with Kerry. This was one of those cases in which officials, in this case the police, chose to interpret rules literally and in the narrowest way, rather than use some common sense.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      But their behavior is not Northam’s responsibility. Would have been an amusing example of unreasonable understanding of an order, except Kerry turned it into a hit piece, as per usual.

  8. djrippert Avatar

    In Maryland you can exercise but you can’t go boating. Well sort of. You can go boating in a kayak because that’s exercise. You can go sailing because (I guess) that’s exercise. But not power boating. And … you can only go fishing if you are doing so to feed your family. Subsistence fishing. It’s amazing how many desperate people I see out on their fabulously expensive Grady-Whites, Intrepids and Boston Whalers fishing to feed their families. Needless to say they have to boat quite some distance to find the tiny white perch that are now biting.

  9. Kerry is so consistent with her inconsistencies. “Everyone needs to follow to rules” until “I disagree with these rules and they are the product of Trotsky fever dream.”

    Larry is spot on. If you want to keep people off the beach come the real warm days of P
    Spring, you have to nip this in the bud. Do I like it, nope. But do I understand why, yes. And the only reason fishing is allowed is because the Republican party of VA made it a constitutional right in an off year election to drum up votes. Didn’t agree with that then, and I don’t now. And I love fishing.

  10. John Harvie Avatar
    John Harvie

    What it did for me is bring back fond memories … I know those outfall pipes well and have probably sat on that same one many times.

    And for those who don’t like Kerry’s postings, chill. She’s skillful at getting your goats and you don’t realize you’re being had. How sad…

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Apparently, with me the converse is true…. yeow, she stole my man.

  11. Atlas Rand Avatar
    Atlas Rand

    I expect people have 3-4 weeks of social distancing left before they’ll have to send the National Guard out to keep folks off the beaches, out of the parks, etc. There’s no safety reason for people not being able to go to the beach as long as they maintain their social distancing, that’s what the police should be enforcing. There’s no reason people shouldn’t be able to go boating. You’ve got beautiful weather, and millions of people at home with nothing to do. This cannot go on for 12-18 months, and if they try to enforce it there will be a revolt. I’m expecting about 40-50% to start ignoring the closures by May 1.

  12. CrazyJD Avatar

    Isn’t the problem here the somewhat hasty setting of rules and overregulating in the first place? Whenever rule setting/law passing is done hastily, you inevitably get bad results. (See, e.g., “We have to pass the law to find out what’s in it”) Pile that on top of society’s ever increasing tendency to solve its problems by passing a law or rule, particularly a criminal law, and you get a mess.

    In 1900, there were 17 federal criminal statutes. At last count, which apparently is extremely difficult because a federal statute may contain many different crimes and because not all federal criminal statutes are contained in one place (i.e. not in Title 18 of Federal Code), the best estimate…yes, estimate… was 4050 federal criminal statutes.

    Most astonishingly, one report found that 300,000 federal regulations can be enforced by criminal penalty. John C. Coffee, Jr., Does “Unlawful” Mean “Criminal”?: Reflections on the Disappearing Tort/Crime Distinction in American Law, 71 B.U. L. Rev. 193, 216 (1991). At least one result was the raid on Gibson guitars by federal marshals in 2011 under an amendment to an endangered species law in 2008. Gibson, which had done nothing wrong, was forced to settle potential criminal charges with the payment of a huge civil penalty.

    Parts of the law were applied retroactively by regulation to certain Madagascar rosewood in Gibson’s possession, acquired long before 2008. Under the Gibson regulation, I could be charged criminally because I own a 1961 Les Paul. (See also criminal charges against Arthur Anderson that put them out of business, though the company’s criminal conviction was ultimately overturned by the U.S, Supreme Court 9-0 in 2005)

    I can’t resist, since it’s the 50th anniversary today:
    “Houston, we have a problem”

    How do you distinguish between beach-going that is ok and beach-going that is not? Simple. You “clarify” by using more language setting out what is ok and what is not. Ah, yes. Maybe you succeed and maybe not. At the very least, you keep guys like me in business. The more language you use, the better the chance I can attack ambiguities inevitably created by more language.

    The more you try to regulate, the more language you use in doing so, the more problems you create. Witness Norfolk beach-going.

    1. spencer Avatar

      Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.

      Stay off the beach seems pretty unambiguous to me. Adults pretending they need clarity because they aren’t mature enough to do something they don’t want to is the problem.

      BTW, I’m having a hard time caring about whether a 4 year old kid gets gets to make sandcastles in the middle of a global pandemic.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        A fair number of commenters here apparently do not agree and are saying that social distancing is nearing an end of acceptance.

        The original models that predicted 100,000 to 200,000 deaths were based on 50% compliance with social distancing so who knows what is going to happen?

        Those who are now opposed to social distancing are blaming it on govt excess – always a popular boogeyman with Conservatives.

        But polls are showing that a significant number of other people still very much are concerned about crowds of people congregating and are not
        going to do it even if it is allowed.

        There’s an evolving split on this also just like we have on other things.

        We may end up with political pressure on the states with some states pulling back – somewhat along partisan lines.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      Good Grief Crazy…. the beach thing is really about to many laws and regulation by government?

      All those laws and regs that you say are wrong – they were voted on by hundreds of legislators and signed by the POTUS and many (not all) upheld by the SCOTUS.

      But, no matter, they’re all wrong anyhow?

      Someone said that Kerry was just getting people’s goat … hmmmm

  13. Atlas Rand Avatar
    Atlas Rand

    Yes Larry, for the average heathy person. I think they’re going to struggle to keep giving up their jobs, and keep from living their life, for the slight chance they catch and die from COVID. You can call it selfish and short sighted, but the average person is not equipped to go 18 months in “quarantine”. This will end sooner rather than later when large groups of people just start ignoring the orders. Small businesses will open on their own, people will go out to the beaches in droves, etc. The Governor needs to be putting together a clear plan to get people back doing something productive, with some social distancing, before he has to start escalating enforcement with the police.

    1. virginiagal2 Avatar

      More than half of people are still working. 30-40% of people can telecommute, and pretty much everyone who can, is. Most people in essential industries are still working, including food, emergency medicine, public safety, pharmacies, etc. Farmers are still working, as are independent professionals like lawyers and accountants. All retail that can do online sales is working. Much manufacturing has been exempted. Veterinary services are still happening. Restaurants are doing delivery and pickup. Car repair is still on. Even liquor sales.

      Who isn’t working? Non emergency medical and veterinary services, in-restaurant food service, entertainment, recreation, sports, most automotive sales, travel, and personal services from housecleaning to hair to nails.

      Most of those services are going to be hurting even after the restrictions end, because of people avoiding the virus.

      Covid 19 causes permanent organ damage to heart, lungs, and liver in some survivors, in addition to killing people. That is not something that people want to risk in exchange for in-restaurant ambience. It’s going to be a different economy until we get a vaccine, not because of government but because of consumer preference.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I think you have it right virginiagal2. The real irony is that a lot of the economy that is not working is:

        1. – discretionary – restaurants, non-food retail, sports, recreation, etc.

        2. – things that involve congregation of people.

        The complainers don’t seem to care – they just want what they want and if it kills a lot of other people, so be it, they’re pretty sure it won’t be them.

        These businesses are not coming back soon – they’ll come back as the threat of the virus truly subsides not because some leaders issues orders to open.

        So a question is – is this “split” related to the partisan divided or is it not?

        1. virginiagal2 Avatar

          I think the response is kind of tribal. A lot of commentators are treating this as a political issue, not a public health problem. But the virus doesn’t have a political affiliation.

          At the core, the results of making decisions are going to be obvious with time. So things like the South Dakota meat packing plant have plenty of time to play out. California doing what appears a very successful lockdown has time to play out.

          So far, I have two friends who have lost family members, multiple friends who have caught it, and one of those friends was hospitalized. Since the last time I posted this, two more friends with it, and one more friend lost a family member.

          It’s hard to spin something as trivial when your friends have buried family members and have been hospitalized.

        2. virginiagal2 Avatar

          Here’s the jobs report for March.

          Long quote:

          “ In March, employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000. Most of the decline occurred in food services and drinking places (-417,000); this employment decline nearly offset gains over the previous 2 years. Employment in the accommodation industry also declined in March (-29,000).

          Employment in health care and social assistance fell by 61,000 in March. Health care employment declined by 43,000, with job losses in offices of dentists (-17,000), offices of physicians (-12,000), and offices of other health care practitioners (-7,000). Over the prior 12 months, health care employment had grown by 374,000.

          In March, social assistance saw an employment decline of 19,000, reflecting a job loss in child day care services (-19,000). Over the prior 12 months, social assistance added 193,000 jobs.

          Employment in professional and business services decreased by 52,000 in March, with the decline concentrated in temporary help services (-50,000). Employment also decreased in travel arrangement and reservation services (-7,000).

          In March, employment in retail trade declined by 46,000. Job losses occurred in clothing and clothing accessories stores (-16,000); furniture stores (-10,000); and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-9,000). General merchandise stores gained 10,000 jobs.

          Employment decreased over the month in construction (-29,000). In March, nonresidential building (-11,000) and heavy and civil engineering construction (-10,000) lost jobs. Construction employment had increased by 211,000 over the prior 12 months.

          Employment in the other services industry declined by 24,000 in March, with about half of the loss occurring in personal and laundry services (-13,000). Over the prior 12 months, other services had added 89,000 jobs.

          Mining lost 6,000 jobs in March, with much of the decline occurring in support activities for mining (-5,000). Since a recent peak in January 2019, mining employment has declined by 42,000.

          In March, manufacturing employment edged down (-18,000). Over the past 12 months, employment in the industry has shown little net change.”

      2. Atlas Rand Avatar
        Atlas Rand

        This response really proves the point. How long are 40% of people going to be without work because they are deemed non-essential? How long can the government keep paying employees with no revenue? How are these lawyers and professionals going to keep working with no courts open? Once again operating under the assumption that there is a vaccine, which for now is wishful thinking

        1. virginiagal2 Avatar

          It’s more like twenty percent not working, and that is more because of the virus than any government rule. Many of those jobs are not coming back, because people are not going to take risks until there is a vaccine.

          There are multiple vaccines in various stages right now, including at least two that have been given to people in early testing.

          Most lawyers do most of their work outside court. They’re working normally.

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    Atlas – look at this chart:

    It’s not just “old” people unless you’re in your 20-30s and everyone older than that is “old”.

    A good number of younger people are also dying, not none, just less.

    and the death rate will go up exponentially if we abandon the social distancing.

    Is the idea that we really can’t stop the virus so just let it take whoever it will take and the survivors just go forward?

    serious question. Does this mean that citizens will overrule public health officials?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      To be fair – this chart shows deaths per age cohort (not just infections):

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Wow. This disease is a mystery.
        It definitely targets the older people. Now I know that in places like Chicago, it disproportionately is killing black Americans, which raises some questions of its own, but the real mystery is why Republicans are so eager to end “social distancing ” and let their largest demographic get decimated.
        Ya know those age brackets hit the hardest are just loaded with angry old white guys, their core constituency.
        Gotta figure given the outcome of the 2016 elections in those age groups, the fact that according to the CDC, 60% of the nation’s victims are white, and the data in those graphs, Republicans are dying at a rate of 2 to 1. 50,000 dead means a loss of some 30,000 Trump, and down-ballot, votes gone.

        1. Atlas Rand Avatar
          Atlas Rand

          Most everything you have to add to this blog is idiotic, but this really takes the cake. I’m not sure if it’s just an Internet persona, or if you are really this obtuse in real life. If it’s really you, and not just a game, I really hope you can one day learn to read critically, and not just regurgitate mostly wrong information, while making useless snide remarks.

          No one is arguing ending social distancing completely, or just waving their hands and the world returning to normal. What I’m saying is that hiding in your house for 18 months until there is a vaccine is not a plan. That even assumes there will be a vaccine, which how’s that going for the common cold (also a coronavirus), HIV, etc. As we get to know the virus better, some of these draconian edicts will need to end and let a new normal happen. This may include vulnerable people continuing to isolate, while those willing go back to work. It may mean a new normal of how we interact. Sports and other large events may not come back at all. This is my point, is that the government needs to have a plan to start returning life to some semblance of normality, or people will start doing it on their own.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            re: ” No one is arguing ending social distancing completely, or just waving their hands and the world returning to normal. What I’m saying is that hiding in your house for 18 months until there is a vaccine is not a plan.”

            No one is advocating “hiding in their house” either. It’s folks like you that are saying this is the choice and it is not.

            You really don’t have a plan at all – it’s a bunch of “mays” which is fine when they turn into “dos” but until then what is your plan?

            why does this have to be political or tribal? It makes no sense.

          2. virginiagal2 Avatar

            Literally no one is recommending social isolation for 18 months for most people. The concerns are doing the right things first, such getting enough PPEs, enough testing capacity, a good and widely available antibody test, and having a coherent plan.

            Plans for unwinding this have been advanced across the political spectrum, with great similarities. The one from AEI, for example, has many of the same elements that Andrew Cuomo discussed.

            The common cold is a few hundred different viruses, most of which are not coronaviruses. That’s why no vaccine. There are vaccines for various coronaviruses in animals.

            Multiple vaccines for Covid 19 are currently in various stages, including early human trials.

          3. Atlas Rand Avatar
            Atlas Rand

            Multiple vaccines have been rushed into early human testing. Hopefully they work, but in all likelihood they won’t. Plans like the one from AEI that include giving up our liberties to allow extreme social contact tracing and mandatory testing are not plans at all.

          4. virginiagal2 Avatar

            There is no reason to think that Covid vaccines will not work. There are multiple animal vaccines for various types of coronaviruses, including for dogs and for pigs. They work quite well.

  15. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Hey Kerry! This is your CHANCE. Here’s your HDT moment. Gather your family, friends, and faithful readers, and all three of you head to the beach for an outing. Defy the order. Get arrested!

  16. warrenhollowbooks Avatar

    “Ya know those age brackets hit the hardest are just loaded with angry old white guys, their core constituency.
    Gotta figure given the outcome of the 2016 elections in those age groups, the fact that according to the CDC, 60% of the nation’s victims are white, and the data in those graphs, Republicans are dying at a rate of 2 to 1. 50,000 dead means a loss of some 30,000 Trump, and down-ballot, votes gone.”

    Not if the hardest hit area is the New York City Metro area

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Bacon’s Rebellion has caught the Covid-19.

      Virginia Gal is exception. Welcome back.

  17. warrenhollowbooks Avatar

    I believe it is things like the sand castle police COMBINED WITH the below . .

    1. Atlas Rand Avatar
      Atlas Rand

      Make no mistake, these are the people that Democrats and liberals want released. The only thing the man deserved was a bullet in the back of the head, 40 years ago. We cannot trust government. They do not have our interests at heart.

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