New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared this week that the city would be stepping up enforcement measures to make sure everyone follows government-imposed COVID mandates.
And according to the mayor, people will not want to be caught violating the crackdown rules, because there will be "substantial" penalties.
What is the mayor planning?
During a news conference Tuesday, de Blasio announced that city officials and law enforcement would be focused on making sure people follow the COVID edicts by ramping up penalties and checkpoints. Included in the stricter New York mandates is a travel quarantine for non-New Yorkers coming into the city.
No one will be spared from the crackdown.
"We're going to make sure that people are reminded constantly throughout this whole holiday season if you travel, there are very clear rules you have to follow," Hizzoner said.
With the increased travel, de Blasio continued, there will be a markedly increased "presence of the City of New York."
"You're going to see that there are really clear rules to be followed and they will be enforced," the mayor said. "And you're going to know that if someone does not follow those rules that there are real penalties, substantial financial penalties that will be applied."
De Blasio said he doesn't want to do this, but it's necessary — to keep everybody safe — and he's got just the guy to make sure everybody follows the rules: Sheriff Joe Fucito.
"No one likes that, no one wants to do that in the holidays, but we will do it to keep people safe," the mayor added. "So, here to tell you about all our efforts to make sure people travel safely and follow the rules that will keep us all safe, our Sheriff Joe Fucito."
Cracking down on 'dangerous gatherings'
Fucito took the ball and ran with it, telling everyone that there will be increased vehicle checkpoints a bridges, tunnels, and crossings, and that his teams will be standing curbside at bus stops as riders disembark from out-of-state buses.
"There has to be enforcement in order to keep everyone safe. So, I'll go over just some highlights of how we're going to be keeping enforcement regarding the compliance with the travel quarantine and the standing emergency orders," Fucito began.
"Sheriff teams will be out in force as the holidays approach," he continued. "There will be vehicle checkpoints at key bridges and crossings throughout New York City. Sheriff will also be conducting checkpoints at curbside drop-off bus stops — so, out-of-state buses coming into New York City, when they drop off at the curb, they will be met by sheriff teams."
Those sheriff teams will make sure people know exactly what they must do in order to comply with New York's quarantine orders, Fucito said.
Anyone who does not follow the travel quarantine rules should know: "There will be consequences," including mandatory quarantine orders from the health commissioner, summons, and fines.
And he tied holiday gatherings to other unsavory gatherings such as "illegal fight clubs, underground raves, and illegal gambling dens."
From Sheriff Fucito:
Violation of a self-quarantine travel regulation may result in deputy sheriffs serving you a mandatory quarantine order issued by the Health Commissioner. In cases of violation, Deputies could serve you with a civil summons that carries a $1,000 fine. As a practical matter, and as the Mayor stated previously, the Sheriff's Office would be concentrating on large-scale gatherings. Our actions in the last several months have reinforced this point. Deputy sheriffs are investigating massive events that violate a panoply of criminal, fire, building, health and other regulatory laws at locations such as illegal fight clubs, underground raves, and illegal gambling dens. These activities were illegal and sometimes deadly before COVID-19, and the public safety hazards regarding them have been amplified exponentially by the pandemic.
The "best and most pragmatic" way to "save lives" in a city of 8 million people, the sheriff continued, is to really crack down on "these types of dangerous gatherings."
Mayor de Blasio went on to add that he wanted folks to be aware that the city will be "constantly monitoring people."
Sheriff Fucito backed the mayor up, noting that the testing and tracing teams will be making sure people are following the quarantine and will be doing "other types of investigation."
If those teams have evidence that someone violated quarantine, law enforcement will get involved. If violations continue, the violator can expect "legal action taken against" him.
"We have made arrests and charged somebody with a misdemeanor for violating the quarantine," Fucito said.