It looks like enforcement of social-distancing rules and the ban on non-essential businesses in New York State is about to get kicked up a notch.
Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo announced that fines for violating social-distancing rules, which include non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason, would double from 500 to 1000 dollars. “It’s my way of saying, this is serious,” he said. “Raising the fine is my way of saying, enforce the law.”
Non-essential businesses include those not on this list.
On Thursday, County Executive Ryan highlighted a section on the county’s website that links to the state complaint form for violators and said enforcement is likely to be stepped up.
Today, Saugerties Police Chief Joe Sinagra shared a warning letter that was sent to two alleged violators in Saugerties.
“Letters were hand delivered by officers, one letter to a local business that is non-essential and was alleged to have been open for business,” he explained. “The other letter went to a local marina that was holding a work party today in order to put their dock in service.”
The letter says violations will first be addressed “in the least invasive enforcement approach” (warning letters) before advancing to fines, which can run into the thousands of dollars for businesses.
Here’s the whole thing:
RE: New York State PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force
Notice of Alleged Violation
Please take notice that you or your business is/are the subject of a complaint received by the New York State Pause Enforcement Task Force relative to alleged social distancing protocol and or operation of a business establishment deemed non-essential, in violation of NYS Executive Orders 202.6, 202.7, 202.8, 202.10, and 202.11.
New York State has taken aggressive action to combat the spread of the infectious COVID-19 virus, as suspected and confirmed cases have surged around the world. Specifically, the NYS has imposed sweeping measures to protect public health and safety, including restrictions on businesses and gatherings through Executive Orders designed to reduce public density and slow the rate of transmission. These measures, together known as “New York State on PAUSE,” directed all non-essential businesses to close their in-person operations and banned all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason. (See Executive Orders 202.6, 202.7, 202.8, 202.10, and 202.11.) For information on which businesses are essential, please visit the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESD) online guidance.
To assist the Saugerties Police toward ensuring public safety, New York has established the New York State PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force . This provides an opportunity for individuals to file complaints regarding the operation of non-essential businesses and gatherings. The complaints can be filed any day of the week through an online form or by calling 1-833-789-0470.
Enforcement Strategy and Options
NYS Executive Orders are designed to reduce social density by discouraging the unnecessary gathering of people in close contact in businesses and public places. The Saugerties Police will first address initial complaints through the least invasive enforcement approach necessary to achieve compliance. In other words, unless the circumstances are particularly egregious, we will use first violation notifications as an opportunity to inform alleged offenders of the orders and their responsibility to protect the health and safety of themselves and others.
Subsequent non-compliance by businesses and other venues, enforcement in some cases will involve action by both the Saugerties Police, including but not limited to, local code enforcement agencies, state regulatory agencies (e.g. State Liquor Authority, Department of State, etc.).
Pursuant to existing statutory and regulatory authority and the provisions contained in the Executive Orders, non-compliance may warrant that the Saugerties Police enforce the following statutes of law depending on the specific circumstances:
• Verbal or Written Warning – This is your written warning notice
• Violation of Uniform Code/Local Building Code – violation, penalties vary; may result in loss of occupancy certificate
- Violation of Health Law (PBH § 12) – civil violation; up to $2,000 first time violation, up to $5,000 repeat violation
- Willful Violation of Health Law (PBH § 12-B) – criminal misdemeanor; up to $10,000 first time violation and/or up to one year imprisonment• Violation of State License or Certification – financial penalty and/or loss of license or certification as governed by respective statutes/regulations o For example, State Liquor Authority-licensed entity violation – civil penalty; up to $10,000 and/or loss of license• Disorderly Conduct (PL § 240.20) – violation; up to $250 and/or up to 15 days imprisonment• Criminal Nuisance in the 2nd Degree (PL § 240.45) – Class B criminal misdemeanor; up to $500 and/or up to three months imprisonment
• Obstructing Governmental Administration in the 2nd Degree (PL § 195.05) – Class A criminal misdemeanor; up to $1,000 and/or up to one year imprisonment
Your understanding and cooperation in this matter is vital toward ending this pandemic. Please help us, your community and our State by slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ending this virus from infecting or killing anyone else.
Please do not hesitate in contacting me directly with any questions or concerns you may have relative to this warning notice.
– Joseph A. Sinagra
Chief of Police