SILVER SPRING, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - The Maryland State Police are among the departments issuing further guidance after D.C.-area residents voiced confusion over the area’s various "stay-at-home" orders.
MDSP affirmed on Tuesday, they would not be randomly stopping people to determine whether travel is essential or not, but did issue as part of their further guidance:
- Enforcement of the expanded Governor’s Executive Order will be conducted by Maryland state troopers. However, troopers will not make traffic stops simply to ask drivers where they are going to determine if their travel is essential or not.
- If, in the course of the regular performance of his/her duties, such as during a crash investigation or a traffic stop, the trooper develops information indicating the individual was engaged in non-essential travel, enforcement action can be taken, in consultation with the state’s attorney’s office in that jurisdiction.
State police and state leaders have been fielding questions for more than 24 hours on just what exactly these new “stay-at-home” orders mean. Part of the confusion lies with the fact while D.C., Virginia and Maryland are interconnected, the executive orders are not the same.
For example, a previous executive order on non-essential businesses shut down Maryland golf courses. Tuesday’s executive order only emphasizes these closures but that’s not the case in Virginia, where golf courses are still open but subject to social distancing guidelines.
A question proposed was whether Marylanders would get a violation for crossing state lines to play golf or pick up groceries.
While certain actions are not encouraged, Virginia State Police Spokesperson Corinne Geller tells FOX 5, state troopers will not randomly stop people.
“We're being contacted by a lot of folks from Florida, and other places trying to return home up to New England, and the northern states and asking if there are any travel restrictions in Virginia at this time,” Geller added. “And, you know, with the latest executive order issued by the governor on Monday afternoon, there are no road closures.”
Geller also told FOX 5 there is nothing in the 4-page executive order that differentiates between a Virginia resident and non-resident. Every police department in the state will be enforcing the laws as the laws allow.
State leaders say people can still go out to get food, take care of a family member, exercise, walk a dog - as long as this is done in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
There is no curfew. All public and private gatherings of more than ten people are still not allowed.
Across the Potomac in Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan’s Executive order, 8 pages long, is a little more detailed and therefore left Maryland residents asking questions like whether a nanny is considered essential? Can private electricians still work? Can you use a lawn service or wash your car?
A little different from the “norm,” Governor Hogan’s spokesperson has been very responsive online trying to answer these questions directly on Twitter.
Michael Ricci even tells FOX 5 someone had asked on Tuesday whether they could visit their fiancé. Ricci says that’s all fine but really, people should stay home if they can.
“It’s important people to know how quickly this virus can be transmitted,” said Ricci. “People should view these primarily as public health orders to protect people's health safety and welfare not as legal documents to look for loopholes or carve outs we just want people to use common sense and help us spread this virus and stay home so that the hospitals, the doctors, the nurses can focus on taking care of the truly sick people. That’s what this is all about.”
Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources also offered guidance, confirming recreational boating is not allowed.
Maryland State Police say as of Tuesday afternoon, MDSP conducted nearly 7,300 business and crowd compliance checks since March 24.
MDSP & VSP’s Spokespeople say we should expect all police departments to be enforcing the state’s executive orders, not just state police.