If you’re not an essential employee or have a legitimate need to be outside of your home during Washington D.C.’s stay-at-home order during the growing Coronavirus outbreak, you might want to lawyer up, as hefty fines and lengthy jail sentences could be in store.
According to the New York Post, Democrat Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser made clear that she’s taking the stay-at-home order quite seriously. “Our message remains the same: stay home,” she said in a Monday statement.
The area’s stay-at-home order allows for taking walks or a jog for exercise, but only if you’re by yourself or members of the same household. Obviously, trips to the grocery store or pharmacy are also allowed during this time.
The harsh threat of jail time and hefty fines came as a surprise to many in the area, as the nation’s capital only has about 400 confirmed cases of the virus, as opposed to some cities that have thousands or more.
1) New Washington, DC stay-at-home order, that goes into effect at midnight tonight (Monday) has some real bite, $1000 to $5000 fines, no mingling with anyone not in your family — so dog-walking, tennis, walks, etc HAVE to be with household members only.
— John Aravosis 🇺🇸 (@aravosis) March 31, 2020
Even the executive director of ACLU of the District of Columbia, Monica Hopkins, expressed alarm at the idea of being fined and jailed for being outside of the home during this time.
“When we saw this order, we thought, ‘You want to send them where?’” Hopkins said. “People being arrested for that causes all sorts of problems that are antithetical to the goals of lessening the virus.”
DC’s Metropolitan Police Department was apparently asked about the level of enforcement they would use with regard to the new threat and whether or not first-time offenders would receive a warning before being hammered with jail and fines, but no clear answer was given.