Hours after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the mandatory closure of all restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms and restricted all gatherings to 50 persons or more amid coroanvirus fears, some state and local law enforcement are now saying they’ll enforce the order up to and including arresting people who defy it.
“We’re not playing around. The hope is that people understand the seriousness of this and will comply and we won’t have to use enforcement measures. But we’re more than willing to do that,” Lester Davis, a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, said.
Young added that Baltimore residents need to “adjust to this new reality.”
Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow W. Jones III said violation of a governor’s executive order declared during a state of emergency is punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 or one year in jail. While there are no plans as of yet to deploy the National Guard to help enforce the rule, they do have “plans to support and coordinate with state police as directed,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
The article adds:
Officers, who are being instructed to record gatherings via their body-worn cameras, will be empowered to break up large gatherings of more than 50 people at all venues in the county, and officials also have the authority to further reduce the number.
Sean Naron, a spokesman for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.'s administration, said people should call the police if they see anyone violating the order, the Baltimore Sun adds.
The order, which does allow restaurants to stay open for take-out and delivery, applies to all social, community, religious and recreational or sports activities and prohibits people from gathering in groups of more than 50, which includes many churches whose congregations exceed that number. The order didn’t come with an expiration date, meaning that if prolonged, the mandate could run through Easter Sunday on April 12, one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar.