NYC Instructs Residents To Report Neighbors Who Violate Social Distancing Guidelines

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As government entities across several states continue to push stringent measures on citizens in an attempt to keep the novel coronavirus pandemic under control, some more draconian moves leave many wondering if the cure is worse than the disease.

According to The Daily Wire, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is calling on residents to report their neighbors caught failing to obey social distancing guidelines while visiting local parks and playgrounds.

The Parks Department informed residents in a tweet last week that “parks are open; however, everyone must practice social distancing and keep 6 feet apart from others,” adding that all playgrounds are closed to the public and team sports and all large gatherings were prohibited.

The department also told followers that they “can report social distancing violations” via a provided link.

The link leads to a social distancing complaint form, which states that NYC “has enacted public health social distancing restrictions to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus” and that residents “can report a violation in progress for the City to enforce as appropriate.”

The website lists three things that can be reported:

  • A business or location is required to be closed

  • An essential business is open, but is not complying with necessary restrictions

  • Overcrowding at a business or location

The site also lists the social distancing requirements, including:

  • Keeping six feet away from others (non-family group members)

  • Not engaging in team sports

  • Not gathering in groups

  • Non-essential businesses should be closed

  • Essential businesses that are open must follow necessary restrictions

The actual form, however, gives no restrictions regarding what can or should be reported. It asks complainers to report the date the observed the violation, a description of the violation, and the address of the violation. The form then asks for a name, phone number, and address, but it does not specify if it is asking for the complainant’s information or that of the individuals alleged to have violated the requirements.

Such “overzealous enforcement,” however, argues Robby Soave, “can breed contempt for the rules.”

“[A]t some point, trying to force every last person to stand six feet away has diminishing returns,” Soave wrote in an editorial for Reason. This is especially true when punitive means become involved—and when civilians are expected to participate in the policing. See-something-say-something directives make people suspicious of each other, and they invite people to demand police intervention in situations that don’t merit it.”

“A bystander could, for example, report a group of people without realizing that they’re a family,” Soave continued, noting that households are not expected to distance from each other. “Expecting people to understand the rules as they apply to themselves is one matter. Where other people are concerned, it’s usually best for us to mind our own business.”

As The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh recently wrote, this is far from an isolated incident.

Police nationwide are cracking down on all manner of outdoor activities even when strict social distancing guidelines are followed to the letter.

Walsh pointed to an example of Kansas City teachers driving by students’ houses in order to uplift students during school shutdowns. Although the teachers remained in their vehicles and never came into physical contact with anyone, Walsh says “the elicit gathering was descended upon by law enforcement, that the celebration of learning was not ‘necessary’ or ‘essential.'”

Walsh also shared the shocking story of a California man who was apprehended by police for paddleboarding in the ocean. The man was completely alone, yet police “pulled him out of the ocean and hauled away in handcuffs.”

In Pennsylvania, a woman was even pulled over and fined $200 for going on a leisurely drive alone.

We wouldn’t dare to argue that the coronavirus pandemic isn’t serious—it is. However, we refuse to ignore the potentially greater danger posed by an authoritarian police state that so readily revokes individuals’ rights to free travel and peaceable assembly in the name of safety. What are we becoming?

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