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Posted on March 31, 2020 in Arizona Law

What Happens If You Violate Coronavirus Lockdown?

Governors throughout the United States are taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Some states are under a mandatory shelter-in-place order. Other states have recommended that people stay at home as much as possible.

Our criminal defense attorneys are following the situation closely. We understand that you may have questions about your legal rights during this challenging period. Let’s look at the restrictions in place right now and how they impact your legal rights.

Is Arizona in a Coronavirus Lockdown?

Some states have issued mandatory shelter-in-place orders. California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey all have stay-at-home orders that close non-essential businesses.

Arizona is not under a mandatory stay-at-home order. Governor Dough Ducey has issued a series of Executives Orders aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

Some of the steps Gov. Ducey has taken to protect the state from COVID-19 include:

  • Activate the National Guard to assist in re-stocking food in food banks and grocery stores.
  • No elective surgeries.
  • Any restaurant in a county with a positive COVID-19 case can only provide dine-out options.
  • All bars in counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases must close.
  • Arizona schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
  • As of March 20, 2020, all bars, movie theaters, fitness clubs, and gyms in counties with confirmed coronavirus cases must close to the public.

Government Officials Watch the Situation Closely

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) recommends no mass gatherings of 10 or more people. The ADHS also recommends telework and other alternatives for employees whenever possible.

The coronavirus provisions change as the situation changes. If health officials identify new cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, government officials may increase efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Those efforts could become more drastic.

City and county officials, as well as private business owners, are also taking actions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. A stay-at-home order is now in effect for the Navajo Nation, which also requires non-essential businesses to close.

Individuals and business owners are urged to follow the coronavirus updates issued by the Governor’s office and ADHS. Also, people should follow the CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus and what to do if you believe you have COVID-19.

What Happens If I Violate an Executive Order?

Executive Orders are laws. If you violate any terms of an Executive Order, you are breaking the law. Unlawful acts may result in criminal charges, convictions, and penalties.

Law enforcement agencies have several options for enforcing the provisions of an Executive Order. A police officer may educate the person by giving the person a copy of the order and advising the person or business owner to follow the order.

A police officer may issue a written warning to the person who violates the terms of any of the coronavirus orders. Law enforcement agents may also issue criminal citations. In some cases, a person may be arrested for violating public health laws and Executive Orders.

Businesses that fail to comply with Executives Orders or other public health laws could face fines. Businesses could also lose their licenses and permits for violating laws.

If the Governor issues a stay-at-home order or more restrictive orders closing non-essential businesses, the Executive Order may contain specific penalties for violating the order. Otherwise, state and local laws continue to apply if you violate a law, regardless of whether a statute or an Executive Order created the law.

Increased Authority to Act

A state of emergency increases the authority of federal and state governments. The increased authority allows governments to act quickly and broadly to protect the public interest. In some cases, actions may seem restrictive, but they are necessary to protect the general public.

Even though governments may have increased authority to act, our basic legal rights continue. If you are arrested for violating coronavirus orders, remain calm and exercise your legal rights.

Any time you are arrested, it is best to remain silent. Ask for an attorney immediately. Be respectful, but refuse to answer questions or make a statement without an attorney present.