New York City Residents Could Face Fines up to $500 for Violating Social Distancing Orders

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, discusses the arrival of a shipment of 400 ventilators with Dr. Steven Pulitzer, the Chief Medical Officer of NYC Health and Hospitals, at the city's Emergency Management Warehouse, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

New York City residents who fail to follow social distancing orders could face hefty fines, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday.

The New York City mayor said on Sunday that residents who refuse to heed the orders of officials and keep their distance from others could face fines, as the city and state struggle to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Officials have already closed nonessential businesses, put an end to public gatherings, and ordered individuals to keep a six-foot distance from one another.

“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 at his press conference on Sunday, stressing that the penalty would only be used as a last resort.

He continued:

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 saying, I don’t want to fine you, but if you don’t change what you’re doing, I’m going to have to, well, you know, that person then deserves the fine.

“You’ve been warned and warned and warned again,” he added, noting the fines could be as high as $500.

Police arrested a Brooklyn man, Vasil Pando, 56, over the weekend for running an illegal club during the coronavirus pandemic, ignoring orders from local officials. According to ABC 7, police discovered a dozen people drinking and gambling in a club that “appeared to be closed from the outside and had no liquor license.”

Pando faces a number of charges, including the illegal sale of alcohol and reckless endangerment.

“This is the first arrest under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive order,” the outlet reported.

There are over 32,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York City.

The USNS Comfort arrived at New York Harbor on Monday morning, ready to assist the state in its battle against the virus:

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