What Are the Penalties for Violating the PAUSE Act?
COVID-19 has prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the PAUSE act, which stands for “Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone.” It has essentially shut the state down, including businesses here in Sullivan and Orange Counties.
According to the order, businesses that haven’t been deemed essential must keep 100% of their workforce at home. If a business has been deemed “non-essential” it must stay closed.
While most people are all too happy to stay safe from the virus, there are people who don’t take the order very seriously. Consider all the folks in NYC who violated social distancing rules to go look at the USNS Comfort hospital ship.
Which begs the question of whether there are legal consequences for violating the order.
As it happens, there are. Right now, New York police officers are patrolling, searching for businesses that are violating the order. They’re also patrolling parks and other public places, looking for gatherings that contain more than ten people.
For the most part police officers are just telling people to move along when they’re inappropriately gathered. Most people do it. Those that don’t open themselves up to a disorderly conduct charge.
People who run businesses who should be closed face stiffer penalties. In New York City an individual who was running an unlicensed speakeasy with 12+ individuals inside got arrested on misdemeanor charges.
Cuomo isn’t eager to put people in jail right now, so he’s imposing fines instead. If you’re caught violating the order, either as a private citizen or as a business owner, you could face fines of up to $500.
As the crisis gets worse we might expect these penalties to grow. Violating an emergency order like this is a crime.
Of course, we’ve never faced an order like this in our lifetimes. It’s easy to see why some people are having trouble with it.
Still, having a party or gathering in a bar aren’t worth breaking the law for. They also aren’t worth risking your health for.
Here in Hudson Valley let’s protect our communities and ourselves by complying. As of right now the White House is projecting up to 240,000 deaths from this virus nationwide. Let’s all try to do whatever we can do to avoid making things worse.
If you’re in any kind of legal trouble right now for the most part your case is as on hold as everything else is. Still, if you have specific questions about your case you’re welcome to call for a (virtual) consultation.