Monday, March 30, 2020

New Yorkers who break social distancing rules will now face fines up to $500

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking at the city's Emergency Management Warehouse on March 24 | Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

New York City residents who break social distancing rules will be subject to fines up to $500, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.

As New York battles the spread of coronavirus, the state has ordered nonessential businesses to shut down, banned gatherings of any size and mandated that people stay six feet away from each other. Not everyone has listened.

Fines will be a last resort, but de Blasio has authorized police officers to give them out to people who are ordered to disperse but fail to do so.

There were 32,308 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city on Sunday, and the death toll climbed to 678.

De Blasio said fines of $250 to $500 would begin for people found congregating in public spaces who fail to disperse when ordered, or return after officers have told them to move along.

“You’ve been warned and warned and warned again,” the mayor said during a Sunday press conference.

“They’re going to give people every chance to listen, and if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” de Blasio said. “I don’t want to fine people when so many folks are going through economic distress, but if they haven’t gotten the message by now, and they don’t get the message when an enforcement officer’s staring them in the face ... that person then deserves the fine, so we’re going to proceed with that.”

In another sign of how hard the city has been hit by the pandemic, a field hospital is being erected in the heart of Central Park to help cope with the influx of patients

Mount Sinai Hospital and the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse are erecting the hospital in tents in the famed park’s East Meadow, de Blasio said Sunday. It will hold 68 beds, and is expected to be up and running by Tuesday.

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