Yes, you can face criminal charges, be fined, and even jailed for breaking a coronavirus quarantine


Passengers from the Grand Princess, a cruise ship carrying multiple people who have tested positive for COVID-19, exit a bus before boarding a chartered plane in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The passengers on the flight are going to San Antonio to be quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base.

pcachero@businessinsider.com (Paulina Cachero) INSIDERMarch 12, 2020, 11:27 AM CDT

Jeff Chiu/AP

  • Americans could face jail time, criminal charges, and fines if they break quarantine or isolation, according to the CDC.  
  • Federal, local, and state health officials have quarantine and isolation enforcement power within state borders. 
  • While lawful quarantine and isolation measures can be implemented, they are rarely enforced.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Around the United States, people are being told to go into quarantine to help halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It’s a new experience. If a state tells you to enter quarantine, what will happen if you don’t? The father of a coronavirus patient in Missouri apparently broke the family’s quarantine to take his other daughter to a school dance, leading officials to warn that they could be quarantined “by the force of law.”

It’s not an idle threat. Depending on state and local statutes, individuals could face fines, criminal charges, and even jail time for breaking quarantines.

There’s a difference between “self-quarantine” and a legally enforced quarantine order

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Workers in protective clothing wait for passengers from the Grand Princess, a cruise ship carrying multiple people who have tested positive for COVID-19, to board a chartered plane in Oakland, Calif.
Workers in protective clothing wait for passengers from the Grand Princess, a cruise ship carrying multiple people who have tested positive for COVID-19, to board a chartered plane in Oakland, Calif.
Workers in protective clothing wait for passengers from the Grand Princess, a cruise ship carrying multiple people who have tested positive for COVID-19, to board a chartered plane in Oakland, California.
Workers in protective clothing wait for passengers from the Grand Princess, a cruise ship carrying multiple people who have tested positive for COVID-19, to board a chartered plane in Oakland, California.


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