The world has been taken by storm recently by the widespread Corona virus, COVID-19, that originated in China in Feb 2020, and has since then spread globally, leading to lockdowns and casualties. To help stem the course of the virus, people have been told to go into self-imposed quarantine. The less that people gather in public places and events, the less are the chances of a contaminated person spreading the virus to others. This is a fairly new experience, and people find the idea somewhat incongruous. But government authorities have assured that any person breaking self-quarantine will face quarantine under the law.
In a recent statement by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “federal, state, or local public health orders may be issued to enforce isolation, quarantine or conditional release.”
The virus spreads from person to person through contact, or respiratory drops while coughing or sneezing. Keeping this in mind, health officials have taken different isolation and quarantine measures to help slow the influx of disease.
These measures are mainly voluntary, where an infected person is kept in isolation or susceptible people are kept together in case they develop symptoms. However, quarantine measures can and are legally enforced too. Due to the fact that state and government officials are responsible for upholding public health and preventing widespread diseases, they can take legal measures to ensure their population remains quarantined.
However, legal action is only advised if high-risk individuals are ignoring their quarantine. If an infected person or a person caring for an infected person without the recommended precautionary measures is taken, break quarantine and goes out in public, where there is a risk of passing along the virus, they may be lawfully forced to quarantine. Although authorities possess the power to ensure legal action to maintain public health order, these measures have rarely been used due to the fact that the last large-scale epidemic was influenza in the early 1900s.
However, these measures are being put in place today. In case of a person breaking quarantine, they could face felony charges, imprisonment for up to a year, or huge fines up to $10,000. These charges could be imposed both if a person leaves quarantine without authorization, and enters quarantined premises without authorization.
With a state-of-emergency declared in most countries and people being fully aware of the repercussions of the virus, people have yet to be charged with breaking quarantine or isolation. However, it should be noted that individuals have faced severe repercussions in the past for breaking quarantine and these consequences will still be delivered nowadays.
Updated March 18, 2019