Not staying at home in Fort Lauderdale? You could get jail time

Mayor urges residents to take coronavirus outbreak seriously

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale’s mayor is taking the Safer at Home order seriously and he wants his residents to, as well. To ensure that, he’s gone one step further.

On Friday, Broward County issued a directive “strongly” urging residents to shelter in place. Mayor Dean Trantalis is now saying those who violate the order could be arrested and face jail time, up to 60 days, or receive a fine of $500.

"Where Broward County strongly urged people to comply with the order, in Fort Lauderdale we have gone one step further and are requiring people to follow the order," said Trantalis.

With 3,877 coronavirus cases in Florida, the number of deaths from the COVID-19 outbreak is now 56 statewide with 11 of them in Broward County.

The emergency Safer at Home order went into effect Friday at midnight. It states that residents are permitted to conduct essential business such as going to the grocery store, picking up food from a restaurant, visiting the doctor or other healthcare provider, going to the bank or stopping at a gas station.

Fort Lauderdale resident Fred Smiley said he is taking the coronavirus outbreak seriously. "I am wearing gloves and I am following their orders exactly."

Another resident, Phoenix Niewidok, said she had just left her home to get some bare essentials. "Then we are going back in."

The mayor said that he does not want to jail people who don’t follow the order, but it is essential for offenders.

"It is not that we are looking to be confrontational, it is not like we are looking to jail people, but there has to be some measure of enforcement for people to comply," said Trantalis.

Smiley compared the coronavirus epidemic to carrying a weapon. "If they are going to abuse what the law states, then they got to pay the penalty," the Fort Lauderdale resident said.

Fort Lauderdale along with 30 other cities in the county are now implementing similar orders.

A truck with a billboard attached to it on Federal Highway carried the message, “Staying Home Saves Lives.” Trantalis has his own message for his residents as everyone around the globe is fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let’s just all hang in there. Stay put. Sit tight and we will get through this together,” said Trantalis.

The order is set to end on Friday, April 17.

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