Violating quarantine and social distancing rules won’t just put you at risk for the coronavirus — it could also land you in jail or facing a hefty fine, depending on where you live.
In New Orleans, an arrest warrant was issued over the weekend for the organizer of a funeral reception with a band. A man in Maryland was arrested over the weekend for hosting a large bonfire in violation of an executive order banning gatherings of over 10 people. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, promised up to a $500 fine for those found to be in violation of social distancing rules.
By the end of Monday, 27 states across the country will have shelter-in-place orders in effect, according to CNN, up from 23 states three days ago. The orders vary state by state but generally limit or outright ban gatherings involving a certain number of people and shut down businesses deemed nonessential.
The gatherings banned can sometimes include weddings and funerals, as they are in the order handed down in Louisiana, a state with one of the fastest-growing spikes of coronavirus cases in the country. After a Saturday gathering for a funeral repass in uptown New Orleans that included a band, police claimed organizers refused to shut down the event when asked and later issued a warrant for the arrest of one organizer and a summons for the leader of the band.
In New York, efforts are underway to get more people out of prisons, including the especially hard-hit Rikers Island. So de Blasio is opting to hit alleged offenders in the wallet, with a fine ranging from $250 to $500, according to the New York Post.
“You’ve been warned and warned and warned again,” the mayor said Sunday. “If anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point.” Thus far, New York City has over 3,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has seen 776 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
While there’s been little organized pushback so far to much of the orders and the arrests, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo this weekend went a step further, threatening fines and arrests for New Yorkers who fled to her state and refused to self-quarantine.
“This is a state of emergency. It is a public health crisis, and it’s imperative that we collect information so we can do contact tracing and that we ask folks to be in quarantine for 14 days,” Raimondo said Friday. “It’s consistent with all the guidance we’re getting from the federal government and from experts. And it’s what I know to be necessary in order to keep Rhode Island safe.”
Raimondo’s order, which enables the National Guard and law enforcement to go door to door in some of the state’s coastal communities looking for New York plates in order to inform them that they have to self-quarantine for two weeks, was criticized by state civil liberties advocates.
“A two-week quarantine solely for the ‘offense’ of coming from out of state, and with no opportunity to contest this demand, is deeply troubling,” ACLU of Rhode Island executive director Steven Brown said in a statement following Raimondo’s order to New Yorkers. “We fully appreciate that the state is dealing with an emergency crisis that requires emergency actions, but it should not be at the unwarranted expense of our civil rights."
Cover: A member of the Rhode Island National Guard Military Police directs a motorist with New York license plates at a checkpoint on I-95 over the border with Connecticut where New Yorkers must pull over and provide contact information and are told to self-quarantine for two weeks, Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Hope Valley, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)