New York City has become one of the world's largest COVID-19 hot spots, with more than 32,000 confirmed cases and 678 virus-related deaths as of Sunday. Elected officials have tried to curb the spread of the disease within the state, implementing shelter-in-place orders that prohibit public gatherings of 50 or more people. But it seems some New Yorkers have refused to comply with the social distancing directives, which has prompted the NYC mayor to crack down on violators.
During a Sunday press conference, Bill de Blasio announced anyone who did not adhere to the social distancing guidelines would face hundreds of dollars in fines. Politico reports the fines will be between $250 to $500, and will be issued as a last resort, as many residents are facing financial hardships due to the health crisis. NYPD officers will reportedly warn any violators to disperse, but if they ignore the demands or reconvene, they will face a penalty.
"You’ve been warned and warned and warned again ... When we say you can go out for some exercise, we’re not saying you can linger," de Blasio said. "We’re not saying you can make a day of it. We’re saying go out, get a minimum amount of exercise and go back indoors. We will be enforcing this but with understanding for the challenges that people are facing, for how new this is."
He continued: "We’re not going to be Draconian. We’re going to give people a chance to get used to this, but I guarantee you: we will enforce this new reality."