COVID-19 restrictions mandated but not enforced

Abigail Duchow, Senior Reporter

The “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order mandates that all people in Washington State must immediately cease leaving their home except to do essential activities like grocery shopping, getting medical services or for their job. The order, mandated by Gov. Inslee on March 23, also states that people can go outside for exercise activities.

The order also states that anyone who violates this order for invalid reasons may be subject to criminal penalties. Invalid reasons include any multi-person activities for social, spiritual and recreational purposes. These penalties are a fine between $25 and $100, or up to 90 days in jail. 

However, Kittitas County Sheriff Clayton Myers said that law enforcement is not currently enforcing these penalties. According to Myers, instead of giving fines and jail time, officers are informing the public about the risks associated with disobeying the orders Governor Inslee has given. 

“It’s our intention to enforce this through education,” Myers said. “I think for the most part people want to do the right thing.”

Myers said he does not believe the crisis will get to a point where people who disobey the order will be jailed, though it is still important to keep in mind that disobeying the order is breaking the law. 

“It’s important to emphasize that violation of a governor’s order actually does constitute a misdemeanor,” Myers said. “We feel pretty comfortable that people aren’t going to put law enforcement in that position…what we’re looking for here is voluntary compliance.”

Myers also said he was not aware of rumors that people need to have papers or documentation to be able get to work. Workers are not required to have paperwork to be able to go to work. He said it is pretty easy for law enforcement to determine if people are doing what they’re supposed to. 

Myers said social distancing is essential during this time and the changes being implemented are for the benefit of everyone. 

According to Myers, the reduction of personal contact will help slow the virus.

“I just want to underscore the importance of this, we’re all trying to keep the impacts of this as low as possible,” Myers said. “You don’t actually have to be right in front of somebody and have them cough on you. This virus lives on surfaces as well, and there’s still a lot about it that we don’t know. The message is for everybody to take it seriously, and everybody to do their part.”