Mayor Bill de Blasio wants New Yorkers to tattle on anyone they see who is not following his social distancing orders during the coronavirus crisis by snapping a photograph on their cell phones and texting it to the city.
“How do you report places that aren’t enforcing social distancing? It’s simple: just snap a photo and text it to 311-692,” De Blasio wrote Saturday on Twitter.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 18, 2020
“Now it is easier than ever,” the mayor said in a short video posted to his official Twitter account. “When you see a crowd, when you see a line that’s not distanced, when you see a supermarket that’s too crowded — anything — you can report it right away so we can get help there to fix the problem.”
“We will make sure that enforcement comes right away. Text the photo to 311-692 and action will ensue. Enforcement will come to get the help we need,” De Blasio warned.
“Look, this is important. I want to keep reminding people: This is about saving lives. Sending that photo in is going to help make sure that people are kept apart and that’s going to stop the disease from spreading and that’s going to save lives.” the mayor said.
The city’s social distancing guidelines, put out in March, direct residents to stand at least six feet apart from each other (not exactly easy on a packed subway car — or even a crowded sidewalk). De Blasio announced three weeks ago that people who violate the guidelines could face fines of up to $500.
The new call for New Yorkers to rat each other out did not go over well on social media.
— McKayla J (@McKaylaRoseJ) April 18, 2020
References to George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984” quickly emerged.
“Comrade citizen! Report all suspected anti-distancing activities to friendly New York Ministry of Social Cleanliness!” WROTE ON PERSON ON tWITTER.
Comrade citizen! Report all suspected anti-distancing activities to friendly New York Ministry of Social Cleanliness! pic.twitter.com/1RiSehqakS
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) April 18, 2020
Shots of Adolf Hitler also popped up.
— Freyja Swedesdottir (@Swedesdottir) April 18, 2020
De Blasio’s guidelines during the coronavirus crisis are some of the most stringent in the nation.
“I certainly do authorize the use of fines in parks and playgrounds if needed. Again, what we’re going to do to begin, as we’ve been doing is – and the weather has been such that there haven’t been too, too many people out – but all of our enforcement officers have been [giving] warnings, have been educating, there’s been loudspeakers telling people the update, all that,” he said March 29.
“Now, it’s as simple as this. If someone is told by an officer [to] disperse, keep moving, you’re not distanced, and they don’t follow the direct instruction from our officer, or they say they’re doing it and then they come back right away, I’m comfortable at this point that they will be fined – my understanding is the fines are in the range of $250 to $500 – that’ll obviously be a … violation of summons that would be provided,” he said.
The mayor opened his Saturday video by praising New Yorkers for their efforts to adhere to the guidelines and for being “extraordinary at social distancing,” adding that city dwellers in the five boroughs are used to close quarters.
“It has taken every fiber of our beings to figure out how to do this because we’re warm, emotional people,” he said. “Thank you everyone who’s done it the right way, but we still know there’s some people who need to get the message. And that means, sometimes, making sure the enforcement is there to educate people.”