- Drivers entering Florida from coronavirus hotspots New York City and Louisiana are being forced to self-quarantine or risk jail time.
- Checkpoints on interstate highways began Sunday, with some drivers reporting hours-long waits.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to issue a shelter-in-place order like many other states and localities, even in Florida, as US cases continue to grow.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Drivers entering Florida from neighbouring states are being funneled through interstate checkpoints as authorities seek to crack down on the spread of the coronavirus, the state’s department of transportation said.
All travellers are asked a series of questions, according to the local CBS News affiliate KENS, with those arriving from places like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Louisiana forced to give contact information during their required 14-day self-quarantine.
In some cases, drivers posted photos of videos of massive traffic jams soon after the checkpoints were enacted Sunday as cars wait to enter the state. There are currently no federal warnings against domestic travel except for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut residents who aren’t part of “critical infrastructure” activities.
— David Jones (@DavidJonesTV) March 29, 2020
Individuals arriving from the New York City area or Louisiana are subject to a $US500 fine or 60 days in jail if they break the order to self-quarantine.
Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed what he called “reckless” travellers from New York who defied local stay-at-home orders for causing an outbreak in his state.
“You’re having people be reckless and cause problems for other communities,” DeSantis said.
“I think people have realised that the epicentre of this thing has shifted,” DeSantis said of the virus. “Now the epicentre worldwide really is New York City. We’re really rooting for New York to get through it,” he continued. “But what’s happened is – and it’s a problem for Florida – once the shelter-in-place was issued, people started fleeing the city.”
Florida has yet to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order, but many local cities and counties are taking it upon themselves to institute lockdowns as the number of US cases continues to grow.
Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, who was the first person in Miami-Dade County to test positive for the novel coronavirus, has urged DeSantis to issue such an order.
Suarez told Business Insider that it’s “hard to second-guess” DeSantis’ reluctance to follow other states in instituting a shelter-in-place order given that about a third of the state’s counties don’t have any confirmed COVID-19 cases, “but I personally would.”
As of Monday morning, there were 143,532 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US, easily the largest in the world. In Florida, at least 50 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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