Keeping in mind that different lawyers and firms may have differing opinions on this issue and that different states and cities may also have their own laws, Kellie Pantekoek, Esq. writes:
As of publication [March 30], 27 states have implemented or plan to implement stay-at-home orders, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Many other local governments have issued stay-at-home orders as well, including Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and Dallas County, Texas. More than half of the U.S. population will be under orders to stay home by week’s end.
California was the first state to order its millions of residents to stay home, and its nonessential businesses like restaurants, bars, and gyms to close. State police are currently not enforcing the order, so residents who choose not to comply won’t face consequences other than social shaming at this point, but that could change.
Under California law, violating the public health order is considered a misdemeanor offense, which requires a court appearance and is publishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. Business owners can face fines, business license sanctions, and health code violations.
The Governor of New York has also issued an order requiring nonessential businesses to keep their entire workforce home. Businesses that do not comply could be fined or face other enforcement measures. New Yorkers can still go outside but must practice social distancing, which means staying at least six feet apart in public places.
The commissioner of the New York Police Department said the NYPD would be enforcing the order but that issuing fines and making arrests would be a last resort.
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