It takes a remarkable force to keep nearly a million people quietly indoors for an entire day, home from work and school, from neighborhood errands and out-of-town travel. It takes a remarkable force to keep businesses closed and cars off the road, to keep playgrounds empty and porches unused across a densely populated place 125 square miles in size.
This happened on Friday in the midst of a manhunt on the edge of Boston not because armed officers went door-to-door, or imposed a curfew, or threatened martial law. All around the region, for 13 hours, people locked up their businesses and "sheltered in place" out of a kind of collective will. The force that kept them there wasn’t external – there was virtually no active enforcement across the city of the governor's plea that people stay indoors. Rather, the pressure was an internal one – expressed as concern, or helpfulness, or in some cases, fear – felt in thousands of individual homes. The distinction is an important one.