Governments boost coronavirus enforcement with required forms for flyers, 'compliance units' for Thanksgiving
New coronavirus restrictions implemented across US ahead of holiday
Fox News correspondent Laura Ingle joins ‘Special Report’ with the latest from Malverne, N.Y.
States and cities around the country are stepping up enforcement of their coronavirus orders ahead of Thanksgiving, using a variety of means to attempt to get compliance and keep case numbers down as winter and the flu season approaches.
The increased enforcement comes as orders have become more strict, limiting the number of people Americans can socialize with, requiring masks in private residences where people from different households are present and more.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned this week that "these are the most dangerous moments since the first days of this pandemic. It’s not too late to turn things around, but time is running out." Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf referenced foreboding projections that say "Pennsylvania will run out of intensive care beds in December if we do nothing."
Wolf and Garcetti are among two of the high-profile officials to announce more robust enforcement of their jurisdictions' health orders this week.
Garcetti, the mayor of the second-most populous city in America, said that those traveling into the city's airports would be required to fill out a form acknowledging the recommended 14-day self-quarantine for people coming into California. The form is similar to one used by New York City earlier this year, but with less invasive questions. People are required to fill out their first and last name and give a phone number.
Notably, the 14-day self-quarantine is just a recommendation.
"We’re asking everyone to cancel non-essential travel. If you must travel, travelers arriving at LAX or Van Nuys Airport from another state or country will be required, starting tomorrow, to fill out an online form to acknowledge California’s recommended 14-day self-quarantine," Garcetti said of the form.
Los Angeles has been the center of controversy multiple times this year over its enforcement of coronavirus orders.
Wolf, meanwhile, announced Tuesday further measures that his state is taking to stem coronavirus spread before the holiday. Included in that is a one-night shutdown of alcohol sales for in-person consumption at places like bars and restaurants. He also implored Pennsylvanians to forego traditional large Thanksgiving gatherings.
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"I know it's painful to miss seeing our loved ones but we can keep them safe by keeping our distance this year," Wolf said. "We aren't out of the woods yet. Right now, as of today, we are in a very dangerous situation."
Wolf's extra measures also included a further emphasis for police to enforce them.
"Law enforcement will be stepping up efforts to enforce this #COVID19 safety plan," Wolf said in a tweet. "They will issue citations and fines, and possibly undertake regulatory actions for repeat offenders."
Rachel Levine, the Pennsylvania state health secretary, read the same statement verbatim at a Tuesday press conference but did not elaborate. Wolf was asked what the ramped-up law enforcement will look like but did not detail any increased patrols or anything else specific, however, he did say Pennsylvania would now follow a "progressive" discipline method for businesses not following orders.
"As they do in Ohio the first time you violate that you get a warning. Second time, you have to close for 24 hours. Third time you have to close for 24 hours and you get a fine," Wolf said. "We have been enforcing these regulations… we have a hotline… so that labor and industry, the state police, whomever can intervene and help protect and try to keep workers and customers safe."
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the Maryland State Police will be dispatching "High Visibility Compliance Units." These will be groups of state troopers patrolling downtown areas focusing on bars, restaurants and event venues to ensure that there are not major public gatherings breaking coronavirus protocols.
"With the new surge of #COVID19 intensifying in Maryland and across the nation, today I announced a wide-scale compliance, education, and enforcement operation to help stop the virus and keep Maryland open for business," Hogan said. "Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, @MDSP is expanding its COVID-19 Compliance and Coordination Center and deploying High Visibility Compliance Units across the state. This operation will continue throughout the holiday season."
Among the places the compliance units will patrol in the state will be Baltimore City, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Bel Air, Fells Point, Allegheny County, Towson and Salisbury. The latter two cities are college towns with younger populations that nationwide have often ignored coronavirus protocols.
But the effectiveness of enforcement of coronavirus-related orders nationwide this year has been marginal at best, something that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Tuesday. Cuomo has been highly critical of local sheriffs for saying that they will not enforce some of his limits on in-person gatherings.
I’m not looking in your window on Thanksgiving. Nobody’s looking in your window on Thanksgiving. You know everything I know. It’s up to you. And the results are going to be decided by you.
"I believe this is 100% driven by personal behavior. The local enforcement has been minimal at best, always. I have lamented about the lack of local government's enforcement daily," Cuomo said in a briefing Tuesday, noting that he's attempted to give state resources to local governments but to little avail. "But I don't believe it's about government enforcement. We have 98% mask compliance not because government does it but because people decided to do it… I could have never enforced the stay-home policy. Government can't enforce social distancing. Government can't enforce mask wearing."
The governor said that he is "proud of New Yorkers" for voluntarily following the government's coronavirus restrictions before reassuring citizens that the government won't be snooping on their private holiday celebrations. He emphasized that the responsibility is on the individual.
"Nobody's going to knock on your door, you're going to do what you're going to do, I understand that," Cuomo said. "I'm not enforcing this. I saw this little cartoon of me looking in the window on Thanksgiving. I'm not looking in your window on Thanksgiving. Nobody's looking in your window on Thanksgiving. You know everything I know. It's up to you. And the results are going to be decided by you."
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