The Andy Griffith Show went off the air in 1968, but the affable and laid-back sheriff of Mayberry has been making a comeback among local leaders who’ve been citing Andy as a symbol of a better way of enforcing pandemic rules – as opposed to the threatening way the county and cities have been going about it lately. 

Against the loud objections from some Republican Guilford County commissioners last month, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners passed new ordinances that gave real teeth to Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Orders pertaining to the pandemic.

In the weeks since then, the “Andy Griffith” manner of rule enforcement has found a growing number of advocates. Oak Ridge Town Councilmember George McClellan has been advocating on Facebook and in speeches for the Andy Griffith method ever since the county passed the rules that could mean fines, business closures and even imprisonment for those violating COVID-19 mask mandates, occupancy limits and numerous other rules. 

McClellan said that, rather than threaten people with penalties, there was a better, more low-key approach the county, cities and towns could take – the method Andy Griffith would have used.  

McClellan said that Guilford County’s move was unwise and entirely unnecessary.

“It’s like taking a heavy-handed approach,” he said. “We need more of an Andy Griffith approach.”

McClellan said that turning the virus executive orders into laws causes resentment and makes people naturally want to push back.

“I’m not opposed to wearing the mask, and I do so when I should, but this is taking it a bit too far,” he said of the penalties the commissioners voted into law.

McClellan said Andy would have used “gentle persuasion” instead and done more to encourage following the rules in a friendly manner.

At the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Wednesday, Dec. 9 meeting when the board voted the penalties into law, Andy Griffith was a key topic.  Former Commissioner Alan Branson said the Mayberry model would make a lot more sense; and Commissioner Alan Perdue, who is clearly a giant fan of the show, went on a detailed dive into the wildly popular 1960’s sitcom.  He used the show to illustrate why it was a mistake for Guilford County to take such a Draconian approach. 

Perdue even cited the exact date of one episode when he was arguing against the wisdom of the county using hastily trained staff to enforce the new laws. Perdue likened it to the episode when Gomer starts running around screaming “Citizens arrest! Citizen’s Arrest!”