Defying Coronavirus Quarantine: Law Enforcement Steps in to Curb Dangerous Behavior

Health care workers transport coronavirus patient to hospital.
Despite strict rules about coronavirus behavior, people have defied public gathering bans.Getty

Law enforcement is cracking down on dangerous behavior during coronavirus crisis.

A Cincinnati bar was boarded up by local officials after revelers ignored a ban on public gatherings and crammed inside to drink and eat from a hot buffet.

In Kentucky, armed deputies parked outside the home of a man who tested positive for the coronavirus to keep him indoors after he reportedly refused to self-isolate.

As communities across the country hunker down to curb the spread of coronavirus, law enforcement and public officials have found themselves pleading — or forcing — people to act responsibly.

At a recent press conference, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said, “It’s a step I hoped that I’d never have to take. But I can’t allow one person who we know has this virus to refuse to protect their neighbors.”

He was referring to a 53-year-old Nelson County man with the coronavirus who left a Louisville hospital against doctor's orders, he said. Deputies were sent to the unidentified man's house to make sure he stayed inside.

In Indianapolis on Thursday, officials established an email address for residents to report violations of coronavirus regulations enacted this week that closed bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness facilities.

Despite a similar ban in Ohio, Cincinnati police descended on a strip mall tavern on Tuesday and boarded up its windows and door after the bar remained open Sunday night and served drinks and buffet meals to more than 40 people, authorities said.

“Not only are you putting the general public at risk, you’re putting our officers at risk that had to go in and deal with the individuals that were in violation,” Assistant Police Chief Paul Neudigate told reporters outside the business. “So, as a result, we are going to set the example today,” he said as officers nailed boards into place.

New Jersey officials asked for the public's help in identifying a woman they said gave a false name and address while undergoing a coronavirus test. The results came back positive, but by then the woman had already left the hospital, authorities said.

Health officials who tried to respond to the address she gave discovered it was fake, said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. "I want to reiterate to folks, at the hospital, you have to give your real name, you have to give a right phone number, you have to give an emergency contact," he said. "This is not a joke. This is a very, very, very serious matter," he said. 

The woman has since been identified, officials said.

Some churches have defied public gathering bans, saying they violate constitutional rights to freedom of religion.

Pastor Tony Spell, after declaring the coronavirus was "politically motivated," ignored Louisiana's public health ban on gatherings of more than 50 and held church services attended by hundreds of people.

Spell, who also says his prayer services can cure cancer and HIV, preached to some 1,100 people Sunday and to about 500 people on Tuesday. Local news stations filmed the gatherings.

"We're going to continue to worship; we're not going to allow people closing the door to our church out of fear," Spell told Wednesday. 

It was not clear what ramifications, if any, the church might face from authorities.

In countries across the globe facing a coronavirus pandemic, mandatory testing has been implemented and arrests have been made to stem transmission of the virus.

A family of four was taken into custody in India, where those ordered to home quarantine have their hands stamped, after fellow train passengers noticed the family's hand stamps, authorities said. The family was placed in a local hospital for observation.

South Korean officials ordered  200,000 members of a secretive church to be tested after 60 percent of the country's coronavirus patients were linked to the church.

The Seoul government's sweeping tracking system is credited with helping to slow the spread of the virus, which has the largest outbreak outside of mainland China. A GPS-tracking system has been implemented to monitor South Korean residents who have been ordered to self-quarantine, officials announced last week.