10 States Where You Will Be Fined for Not Social Distancing
With fine maximums in the thousands, you may want to check your state's laws before you get too close.
By now, you know that six is the magic number when it comes to staying safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the practice of staying at least six feet away from other people in public, otherwise known as social distancing, to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The general principle is that close contact is the primary way COVID-19 is transmitted via respiratory droplets from an infected person who sneezes, coughs, or merely talks to others. However, social distancing is not just a recommendation in many states—some are enforcing this safety practice by law. Want to be sure you're staying safe and not coughing up money? These are the states that could fine you if you are not social distancing. And for more states with serious ramifications for violating COVID-19 precautions, check out the 7 States Where You're Breaking the Law if You Don't Wear a Face Mask.
Michigan residents, beware: You can face stringent fines for not social distancing. The director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Robert Gordon, issued an emergency order on Apr. 2 to set a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for those not following social distancing orders. The order even allows prosecutors to have the option of pursing criminal penalties for violations.
Under a health mandate issued by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Mar. 28 and updated on Apr. 21, all Alaskan residents must adhere to social distancing guidelines, which is defined as "maintaining a distance of six feet or greater from any individuals with whom you do not currently reside." Those violating the mandate can face a fine of up to a $1,000 per violation—however, there's also an addendum that allows people to be criminally prosecuted for reckless endangerment, which is a class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $25,000. And if you're curious about staying safe as your state reopens, check out 9 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make During Reopening.
Many counties and cities in Colorado have relaxed their guidelines to less stringent safer-at-home orders rather than the previous stay-at-home orders. However, that doesn't mean you can return to life pre-COVID-19. All residents must still follow social distancing requirements. Those who violate the public health order may face a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail, according to the Colorado Office of the Attorney General.
Under Gov. David Ige's Fifth Supplementary Proclamation, those in Hawaii must "maintain six-foot distancing whether outside, waiting in lines, or indoors with many people." Violations of this proclamation and any others are considered a misdemeanor, which means violators can face a fine of up to $5,000, a year in jail, or both.
Ohio's director of the Department of Health, Amy Acton, MD, put social distancing as a requirement in her Stay Safe Ohio order, which demands that citizens maintain at least a six-foot distance, wash their hands as frequently as possible, cover coughs or sneezes, and avoid shaking hands. State and local law enforcement can enforce this order by fining violators up to $750, no more than 90 days in jail, or both. And for more about life after lockdown, check out the 7 Places You Shouldn't Visit Even If They're Open.
Under Idaho's Stay Healthy Order, the state started reopening some businesses on May 16. However, that doesn't mean all regulations went out the window. The order requires that "individuals not residing within the same household" maintain at least six feet of distance from others when possible. Violating the order may constitute a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both—although the maximum amount is not defined.
The state of California has been issuing fines to residents who are not social distancing as well. On the first weekend of April, the Los Angeles Times reported that authorities in Manhattan Beach had issued 129 citations for people violating social distancing guidelines. Those cited face fines of up to $1,000.
A health order issued in April required all businesses in West Virginia to establish social distancing measures for the public, including limiting capacity, putting down six-foot distancing markers, and creating one-way aisles, as well as enforcing social distancing in general. Those who fail to comply with the requirements will be fined at least $25, but not more than $200, according to the order. And for more on preventing the spread of COVID-19, check out How Many People Need to Wear Masks to Stop the Coronavirus.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a prominent political voice advocating for social distancing. So, it's no surprise that those in his state of New York can be fined for not maintaining six feet of distance. According to the New York State Health Department, Cuomo even doubled the maximum fine amount for social distancing violations from $500 to $1,000.
The town of Stratford, Connecticut, started issuing fines for social distancing violations at the beginning of April, the Connecticut Post reported. Mayor Laura Hoydick directed the Stratford Police Department to issue fines of $100 to those not maintaining at least six feet of distance, per Gov. Ned Lamont's executive orders. And for more about how the coronavirus is affecting certain states, check out 5 States Where Coronavirus Cases Are Rising Sharply.