New Yorkers who break coronavirus social distancing rules could be fined $500 if they gather in public – The Sun

NEW Yorkers who are found not following social distancing rules may now be fined up to $500.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that people found congregating in in public places in groups of two or more that do not follow NYPD officers' orders to break up may face the fine.

"If anyone doesn't listen, then they deserve a fine at this point," de Blasio said at a press conference Sunday night.

"And 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," the New York Mayor added.

"We are going to proceed with that as part of how we intensify our enforcement," de Blasio said, confirming the fines.

De Blasio said that the fines – which range from $250 up to $500 – will only come after a warning from officials.

"I want to just let all New Yorkers know that what we're trying to do is say: 'You've been warned and warned and warned again,'" de Blasio said.

"They're going to give people every chance to listen," he said, emphasizing that people will first be told to stop gathering.

The warning came as New York remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

As of Monday afternoon, New York state had confirmed over 63,000 of the more than 153,000 COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

More than 1,200 deaths across the Empire State had been reported, with 790 alone in NYC.

De Blasio told NY1 on Monday that despite strict orders for people not to gather in groups in public, many people are still not heeding the warnings.

"We still have some people who are holding out – what our officers and our other enforcement agencies are going to do, they're going to go up to someone to say, 'You have got to disperse now,'" de Blasio told NY1.

"'You've got to spread out, you’ve got to stop playing those sports, you're playing a team sport,' – and if that is not honored, they're going to say, 'We're about to fine you, if you don't stop now, we're about to fine you.'"

"If the specific instructions of our officers are not honored, then it's time to get fines," de Blasio told NY1.

Although New York is the first city to say it is actually handing out fines to individuals that violate social distancing, other cities have warned it could happen if people do not listen to social distancing guidelines.

Last week, officials in Chicago warned that if people do not heed social distancing guidelines, they may hand out fines up to $500, NBC Chicago reported.

The warnings came as New York prepared for even more cases in coming weeks.

Governor Andrew Cuomo warned "tsunami is coming" as the state prepares to hit a peak in COVID-19 cases.

Monday, the USNS Comfort hospital ship docked at Pier 90 in New York.

The 1,000 bed hospital ship will provide relief to hospitals as it will offer beds to non-coronavirus patients.

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