Are people being arrested for violating stay at home orders?

By Aaron Rice
April 3, 2020

Mississippi’s shelter in place order begins at 5 p.m. today and runs for two weeks. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your house. Nor will it close all businesses. Under the order, individuals will be allowed to leave their house for health-related reasons, to obtain food and common household supplies, to engage in individual outdoor activity, and to work in an essential business.

“If there’s a pond, creek, or private lake near you where you can safely drop a line while staying away from other anglers I strongly encourage you to do so,” Gov. Tate Reeves recently tweeted.

In a recent news conference, Reeves talked about closing the Barnett Reservoir and other public waterways that people like to congregate. Large crowds – of at least more than 10 – have been gathering at such locations prompting the shut down.

If that continues, would we start to see people being arrested? Probably not. At least at first.

“What I would hope would happen is local or state law enforcement breaks up that group and tells them to go home,” Reeves said. “I don’t think we’re going to see significant arrests initially unless you ignore what you’re supposed to do.”

Essentially, the police aren’t going to pull people over in their car asking for proof that they are traveling to or a from an essential business or activity. And if they do see you violating the order, you’ll likely just be asked to disperse.

Nationwide, we have seen some high-profile arrests for people who are clearing ignoring orders. Preachers in Louisiana and Florida have been arrested for holding church services with upwards of 1,000 people. 

But, by and large, that has not been the case to this point. Arrests have generally come after multiple warnings from law enforcement or if the person was engaged in another illegal activity.

What are essential businesses?

Government: Public safety, first responders, law enforcement, fire prevention and response, courts and court personnel, military, emergency management personnel, correction, probation and parole, child protection, child welfare, EMTs, 911 call center employees, all workers and vendors that support law enforcement and emergency management operations and services.

Healthcare: Hospitals, clinics, research and laboratory operations, nursing homes, residential healthcare facilities, congregate care facilities, assisted living facilities, elder care, medical wholesale and distribution, home health workers and aides, medical supply and equipment manufacturers and providers, medical waste disposal, hazardous waste disposal, other ancillary healthcare services. 

Infrastructure: Utilities including power generation, nuclear facilities, utility poles and components, fuel and transmission, petroleum producers, suppliers and distributors, supply chain companies, telecommunications, electronic security and life safety services, wireless communication, communications sales and customer support, telecommunications and data centers, cybersecurity operations, flood control, operations of dams, aviation, airports, ports, roads and highways, mass transit, automotive sales and repair, vehicle rental services, taxi and network providers such as Uber and Lyft, freight and passenger rail, pipelines, transportation infrastructure, public water and waste water, hazardous waste disposal, hotels and commercial lodging services. 

Manufacturing: Food processing and production, pharmaceuticals, food additives, medical equipment, medical devices and supplies, technology, biotechnology, chemical products, telecommunications products, automotive production and supplies, healthcare, energy, steel and steel products, fuel and petroleum exploration and production, lubricants, greases and engine oils, mining, national defense, sanitary and cleaning products, household products, personal care products, products used by other essential businesses or operations.

Agriculture: Food cultivation, livestock, cattle, poultry and seafood operations, livestock auctions, feedlots, dealers and brokers of livestock, livestock transporters, farmer’s markets, feed stores, repair of agricultural equipment, gas, diesel and petroleum suppliers, aquaculture, horticulture, chemicals including pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, producers and distributors, forest products businesses, including those involved in forestry operations, logging, manufacture of lumber and paper products, meat processing facilities, rendering facilities and transporters, feed processing facilities, veterinary services.

Retail: Supermarkets, food and beverage stores, food providers, convenience stores, pharmacies, hardware and building materials, gas station, restaurants or bars (must comply with limit of 10 people).

Services: Trash collection, mail and shipping services, home repair, automotive sales and repair, warehouse, distribution and fulfilment centers, laundromats/ laundry services.

Media: Newspaper, digital news sites, television, radio, other media services.

Finance: Banks and related institutions, insurance, payroll, accounting, processing financial transactions, services related to financial markets. 

Professional: Legal, accounting, insurance, real estate (including appraisal and title) services.

Construction: Building and construction, lumber, building materials and hardware, electricians, plumbers, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial, HVAC and water heating industry, painting, moving and relocating services, other skilled trades and other related construction firms and professionals to maintain essential infrastructure. 

Safety, sanitation, and operations of residences and businesses: Law enforcement, fire prevention and response, firearm and ammunition manufacturers and retailers, building code enforcement, security, emergency management and response, building cleaning including disinfection, automotive sales and repair, mortuaries and cemeteries. 

This also includes organizations that provide basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations, defense industrial bases employers and personnel, vendors that provide essential services or products, and religious entities (that adhere to gathering size limitations). 


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