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States With the Most Drastic Coronavirus Restrictions

New York

New York is the hardest-hit state in the country. There are now tens of thousands of cases, and that number is only multiplying as residents refuse to take everything seriously. Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order on non-essential retailers and services. Either they must be closed or allow employees to work from home.

Gov. Cuomo also enacted “Matilda’s Law,” which requires vulnerable people to stay indoors, except in the case of solitary exercise. Those who aren’t at risk are also told not to gather in groups. Restaurants and bars transitioned to to-go orders only, while gyms, casinos, and movie theaters were shut down. Cuomo also stated that anyone not complying would be fined, although he didn’t mention how much.

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New Jersey

New Jersey’s cases are rising rapidly, and fatalities are increasing each week. Governor Phil Murphy has decided to take things very seriously. Originally, he requested people stay inside, but when they didn’t listen, he ordered a stay-at-home order.

This caused non-essential businesses to shut down. The only places that are allowed open are grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, laundromats, and a few other businesses. Murphy tweeted out, “If you are unhappy about our aggressive social distancing measures, I’m sorry. But your safety is my highest priority.”

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Connecticut began taking extensive measures starting March 23rd to combat the coronavirus. Governor Ned Lamont has shut down non-essential businesses, encouraging employees to work from home. Essential businesses include healthcare, food service, law enforcement, and “similar critical services,” according to his executive order.

Gov. Lamont has also put in place a “stay safe initiative,” which tells citizens not to gather, limit outdoor activities, and don’t go anywhere unless they have to. There’s no word whether or not this will be enforced by fines. Gov. Lamont also pulled approximately 2,000 nursing home beds, converted dorms into hospital spaces, and created outside triage to handle an influx of new patients.

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Oregon hasn’t yet had massive case numbers like others in the west and northwest, but Governor Kate Brown isn’t waiting. She issued an executive order to prevent people from being outside unless when conducting essential business, which is much the same as other states. Office work is banned unless employees can work from home, and childcare facilities cannot exceed groups of 10.

If someone is caught not participating in essential business or not keeping the six-foot rule, Oregon Public Broadcasting published that residents could be sentenced to 30 days in jail as well as a $1,250 fine. Police stated they would first educate offenders before taking these steps.

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Michigan has reached over 1,000 cases, so Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order as well, starting March 24th. Stay inside, keep six feet away from people, and shut down non-essential business, which are things she’s requested all along. Essential services are still available.

The governor is concerned cases could reach over one million in the state unless these drastic measures were taken. Unlike other states, it’s up to employers to decide if they are essential or not, but the governor requested businesses not to “play fast and loose” with what’s essential and what’s not. Those who choose not to comply could be fined up to $500 and/or spend 90 days in jail.   

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Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts put the sharpest restriction on daily life yet. He ordered all non-essential businesses to close by Tuesday, March 24th and told all state citizens to stay at home. The business closure stays in place until April 7th but could be extended if necessary. Naturally, essential places will remain open, including grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, gas stations, and other businesses. If possible, non-essential workplaces can work from home.

Gov. Baker also instituted a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, while also informing the public transit should only be used for essential travel. Anyone caught breaking this executive order will be forced to pay a “graduated set of penalties” (according to Boston Globe) up to $300 and possible criminal charges.

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Washington was one of the first states impacted by the virus, and thus, radical actions have been put in place to bend the curve. March 23rd, Governor Jay Inslee issued a “stay-at-home” order for all Washingtonians. He stated that this would last for at least two weeks, but this date could extend if hospitals are still overwhelmed.

People are still able to go out for essential work, to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or to seek medical care. Residents may also take a short break outside for exercise. Gov. Inslee did also state that police could issue fines if Washingtonians don’t comply with the order, although he didn’t say how much or how often this would occur.

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Rhode Island

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo enacted a stay-at-home order and tweeted out, “unless you’re getting food, medicine, gas or going to work, you need to stay home.” All non-essential businesses were closed, including retail stores, starting on March 30th. Anyone traveling to another state must self-quarantine for 14 days, excluding healthcare workers.

It’s scheduled to last until April 26th. Law enforcement has permission to pull anyone over with New York plates to record their information. While we couldn’t find the amount, Herald News did state that police have already begun issuing fines for those who choose not to comply.

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California has been hit particularly hard from the coronavirus. With thousands of people infected from the virus, the governor of the state has begun to take extreme measures to prevent it from becoming another New York situation. On March 17th, Governor Gavin Newsom stated schools would be closed for the rest of the academic year.

Additionally, on March 19th, Newsom ordered a shelter-in-place for all 40 million residents of the state. Those who work in essential services can go to work, and a number of essential services will remain open, including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, laundromats, and home supply stores. All restaurants are to-go only.

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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that a “stay-at-home” order would begin Friday, March 20th, and last through April 7th, at minimum. Residents would be allowed to go to the grocery store, walk their dogs, and do essential tasks, but all non-essential businesses would be closed. Illinois schools were shut down until April 8th, but many suspect that this will be extended.

The Illinois governor also stated that those who are sick and going out could be fined. This is a concern considering testing in Illinois is extremely limited. Police are hoping to educate Illinois residents into compliance rather than enforcing strict fines and possible jail time.  

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Just after its first coronavirus death, Alaskan Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a stay-at-home mandate. Residents are allowed to leave if it’s absolutely necessary but are otherwise told to stay at home. When out, they must remain six feet away from one another unless they live in the same household.

People are also told not to travel between communities, and police will enforce this directive if necessary. The Alaskan governor didn’t say how much they would charge if a person is negligent of the order. The mandates will be reconsidered on April 11th.

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As Colorado cases rise, Governor Jared Polis issued a stay-at-home order. Residents are required to remain in their homes unless they are going grocery shopping, delivering supplies, seeking medical care, to care for a family member, or if they’re going to an essential job. They may also exercise outside, as long as they remain six feet away from other people.

Since it’s an executive order, breaking it means breaking the law. Not washing your hands in critical jobs, like food service, is a misdemeanor now, which means hefty fines and possible jail time. Not complying with the stay-at-home order and willfully being negligent could result in a $1,000 fine, according to CPR News. The mandate will stay in place until April 11th.

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Delaware’s governor isn’t taking any chances. Gov. John Carney issued one of the longer stay-at-home orders in the country – telling residents to remain in their homes until May 15th or until the “public threat is eliminated.” This means staying home whenever possible, which is easier as all non-essential businesses were shut down.

Delaware residents are allowed to leave their homes for essential activities like getting groceries, seeking medical care, or other things that are “essential to their health.” There is no news whether or not there is a fine for breaking this mandate.

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Hawaii may be an island, but they have cases like everyone else. A stay at home order was issued on March 25th, requiring people to remain in their homes unless necessary. Hawaii is one of the few states on the list that was forced to take action for those that aren’t complying to the order.

Hawaiian Governor David Ige said there would be a fine of up to $5,000 or a year in jail for those who don’t follow the mandate. On March 28th, headlines broke that three were arrested for not complying to the order, one being given a $4,000 bail, according to MSN. Honolulu police have also issued 70 citations in just a few days.

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Idaho Governor Brad Little issued a stay-at-home order on March 25th that would last for 21 days – until April 15th. Along with closing all non-essential businesses, people are told only to go out when necessary.

The governor did call National Guard, but it’s unclear whether or not it’s to help enforce the mandate. He also didn’t state that there would be fines or jail time for failing to comply. Police stated that they would enforce the law if necessary, but they’re focusing on “education before citation.” One county, Blaine, took it even further by not allowing non-residents a hotel room unless they’re essential workers.

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Indiana’s stay-at-home order seemed lax at first. Governor Eric Holcomb asked people not to go out unless necessary, stating that no one would be stopped for merely driving on the roadways. However, troopers still had the ability to issue citations and arrest those who willfully are choosing not to comply.

Choosing not to could result in a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail, according to IndyStar. However, soon after the order was implemented, people began to be arrested for breaking the no-travel rule. That being said, all individuals stopped thus far were charged with other things as well, such as drunk driving.

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s Governor Chris Sununu declared a long stay-at-home order in the state until May 4th. This will restrict all activities except those deemed “essential.” The governor and state officials said they wouldn’t be stopping people on the streets, and state borders weren’t closed, but they would enforce the law if necessary.

Police said they would give those who are breaking the stay-at-home order a copy of the governor’s order and educate them before fining. However, they would take action for repeat offenders. Businesses that don’t shut down are also subject to fines of up to $20,000, according to New Hampshire Public Radio

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New Mexico

New Mexico has begun a stay-at-home home, starting on March 24th. Residents are told to remain at home unless necessary, including only going to the grocery store once a week. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “all businesses except those deemed essential to public health, safety and well-being will be ordered closed.”

Those who don’t comply may be subject to fines and jail time. Those who “flagrantly” gather in groups of more than five (in the words of Gilbert Gallegos with Albuquerque Police) are violating the state law. According to local news source KRQE, the fines could be up to $100 or up to six months in jail.

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North Carolina

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a stay-at-home directive that goes into effect on March 30th. Like all other states, residents are allowed to get out for essential things, but non-essential matters would be enforced by the police and fined if necessary.

Charlotte Observer stated that violating the order could result in a Class 2 misdemeanor charge. This could mean a fine of up to $1,000 and even 60 days in jail. Police stated that they would educate before enforcing, but frequent lawbreakers would be punished.

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Not all of Pennsylvania is on lockdown, but many counties have been put on strict lockdown. Philadelphia is one of those areas. Unless you work for a life-sustaining business, you can’t go out. Those who live in the counties affected can go to the grocery store, pharmacy, hospital, and other essential places, but in general, people must stay at home.

Exercise is considered essential for health and mental well-being, but Governor Tom Wolf tells everyone to remain six feet apart. State officials haven’t directly explained what will happen by breaking the stay-at-home order, but a spokesperson did say that if an officer comes across a situation of “willful noncompliance,” then they will take “appropriate action.”  

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Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued a stay-at-home order like many other states on the list.  Starting on March 25th and going until April 24th, people aren’t allowed to leave their homes unless for essential things like grocery shopping or going to their jobs.

Initially, residents chose not to listen, prompting a Milwaukee alderman to speak out, telling people to stay at home. Now, Wisconsin police are enforcing the order, charging people who flagrantly break the rules up to $250 in fines or 30 days in jail.

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