Rhode Island police, National Guard begin stopping cars with NY plates and going door-to-door to enforce quarantine
BY MORGAN GSTALTER
Rhode Island police have begun stopping cars with New York license plates, and the National Guard will soon help officials conduct house-to-house searches to force anyone who has traveled from New York to enter isolation.
Raimondo on Thursday issued an executive order enforceable by law mandating that anyone who has traveled to New York via any form of transportation must enter into a two-week self-quarantine.
The order applies to anyone who has been in New York within the past two weeks and will remain in place until at least April 25. The order, however, does not apply to public health, public safety or health care workers.
Raimondo announced on Friday that members of the National Guard will be present at T.F. Green Airport, train stations and bus stops to collect contact information for the state health department “so they can keep track of who you may have been in contact with.”
National Guard soldiers will then follow up with people at their local residences to ensure they are following through with self-quarantine orders.
Authorities will also be checking towns where many New Yorkers are known to have summer homes, according to the governor.
The maximum penalty for those found to be defying the executive order is a fine of $500 and 90 days in prison, according to Bloomberg.
The outlet reported that state police cars were stationed along Interstate 95 northbound on Friday afternoon and that signs ordered all New York passenger vehicles to pull over at the rest stop closest to the Connecticut border.
The outlet also reported that Raimondo had consulted with lawyers about the order and was confident it could be enforced.
However, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) objected to the collection of motorists’ data.
“While the Governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” Rhode Island ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said in a statement. “Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be.”
The group urged Raimondo “not to follow through with such an ill-advised and unconstitutional plan.”
New York has emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., accounting for roughly half the total number of cases in the country.
By contrast, Rhode Island reported only 203 positive coronavirus cases on Friday.