DC Mayor Threatens Fines and Jail Time for Those Who Violate Stay-at-Home Order

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Following yesterday’s strict stay-at-home orders issued by Virginia and Maryland governors, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a similar declaration for D.C. residents, threatening those who don’t comply with 90 days of jail time and a $5,000 fine.

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“The only reasons you should be leaving your home are to buy groceries, pick up medicine, or exercise with your own family, or because you have been advised to seek medical attention, or because you are performing an essential job,” she said.

Currently, there are only 401 of the U.S.’s approximate 160,000 confirmed cases in the area, so the news was met with a lot of backlash.  

“We would be deeply concerned if anyone actually was arrested for violating the order,” Monica Hopkins, executive director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, told the New York Post.

The jail time takes on even more significance after five inmates tested positive for the coronavirus this weekend in the District’s 1,700-inmate jail near Capitol Hill.

Just yesterday, the ACLU of the District of Columbia and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia sued the D.C. Department of Corrections for what it called a “flagrant disregard of basic public health measures to limit the spread and severity of a COVID-19 outbreak inside the D.C. Jail.”

“Many of the people currently held at D.C. Jail suffer from chronic, pre-existing medical conditions that elevate their risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, according to Centers for Disease Control criteria,” Steven Marcus, attorney for the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, said in a prepared statement. “With five COVID-19 cases confirmed to date among the incarcerated population, and a lack of adequate safety precautions, the disease is going to spread like wildfire absent immediate action.”

The businesses that were classified as essential were health care and public health operations, grocery stores, medical marijuana dispensaries, utilities, alcohol sales, laundromats and dry cleaners, gas stations and social services organizations.

Mayor Bowser noted that the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs may require those deemed essential businesses to provide their plans to minimize person-to-person contact at any time.

Although no mention of restaurants were in the Mayor’s order, they are currently able to offer carry-out or delivery through at least April 24.