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Nassau & Suffolk fire marshals, police receiving hundreds of 'social distancing' complaints

From partially open offices, to restaurants and bars still serving or groups of kids riding bikes, officials in both Long Island counties are receiving plenty of calls about people failing to keep their distance.

News 12 Staff

Mar 26, 2020, 10:40 PM

Updated 1,548 days ago

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A key to defeating the coronavirus has been shutting down businesses and keeping social distance, but whether people are following and enforcing those restrictions is a different story.
From partially open offices, to restaurants and bars still serving or groups of kids riding bikes, officials in both Long Island counties are receiving plenty of calls about people failing to keep their distance.
Both police and county fire marshals have responded to the calls.
"We're going to office buildings, we're trying to find out exactly what their business is," says Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro. "We had a few bars open, we had a couple restaurants that were doing things the way they weren't supposed to be."
Uttaro says as of Thursday, they've received more than 200 calls into the matter, and of the 100 complaints investigated, they've issued two desk appearance tickets, meaning the violators will have to show up in criminal court.
"Outdoor activities are being regulated and enforced by police departments ... we're not going into single-family homes, we're not going to peoples' backyards," says Uttaro.
Nassau County closed its playgrounds on Monday, and public safety has patrolled areas like Eisenhower Park, where they've been instructed to tell people to separate if they're gathering in crowds.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart says under the penal law, officers can break up crowds.
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"If need be, we have unlawful assembly, we have trespass laws, we have disorderly conduct," says Hart.
So far, Suffolk police have received 82 calls, and found six businesses in "non-compliance" but didn't issue any tickets.
In Nassau, you can lodge your complaints via email at shutdownenforcement@nassaucountyny.gov.


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