What Happens if You Violate a Stay at Home Coronavirus Order?

stay at home order

Getty Violating a Stay at Home order could result in fines or even jail time, if authorities choose to enforce the order.

What happens if you violate a Stay at Home order for coronavirus? Millions of Americans are now living under such an order, and there are punishments for violating it.

On March 19, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a state-wide Stay at Home order for the entire California population, to be enforced indefinitely. Newsom said the lack of timeline was intentional, but that it could last for upwards of eight weeks, or even longer.

Per the state’s order, Californians are allowed to go outside and use the following “essential services:

  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
  • Banks
  • Laundromats/laundry services

And here is what’s closed, for the duration of the Stay at Home order:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues
  • Gyms and fitness studios
  • Public events and gatherings
  • Convention Centers

All residents are expected to “stay home at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructures.”

Here’s what you need to know about what happens if you violate this order:


Newsom Says Police Won’t Enforce Punishments Yet — But His Order Does Include Language That Could Result in Fines, or Even Jail Time

During his press conference on March 19, Gov. Newsom said that police would not be enforcing the Stay at Home order for the state in the coming days. With that said, the order is set to go on indefinitely, and there is explicit language within the executive order that explains the level of punishments that police could enforce, for those who do violate the Stay at Home order.

Under Article 19 of the California Emergency Services Act, details about potential punishments read as follows:

Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter or who refuses or willfully neglects to obey any lawful order or regulation promulgated or issued as provided in this chapter, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable by a fine of not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not to exceed six months or by both such fine and imprisonment.

So for anyone who violates the state’s Stay at Home order, authorities technically have the right to fine you up to $1,000, or order jail time of up to six months.

Again, Newsom has stated that authorities will not be enforcing the order or handing out punishments as of yet.

Now, nearly 40 million Americans living in the state of California will have to adjust their daily lives to fit within the parameters of the Stay at Home order.

During his March 19 press conference, Newsom encouraged Californians to be heartened by these drastic measures. “This is a moment we need to make tough decisions,” he said. “This is a moment where we need some straight talk and we need to tell people the truth: We need to bend the curve in the state of California.”

Mayor Garcetti echoed a similar sentiment in his own press conference, hours earlier. “We’ve already radically changed how we live in Los Angeles,” he said. “We need to be painfully honest tonight that we’re about to enter into a new way of living here.”

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