Rhode Island National Guard to Conduct House-to-House Searches For People Who Came From New York

The Rhode Island police and National Guard are going to begin searching houses for people who came to their state from New York and demand that they self-quarantine.

On Friday, police in the state began stopping people with New York license plates.

“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Governor Gina Raimondo said, according to a report from Bloomberg. “That risk is called New York City.”

The Democratic governor said that she considered closing the border to the state, but since she couldn’t, she is heavily enforcing quarantines.

“Yesterday I announced and today I reiterated: Anyone coming to Rhode Island in any way from New York must be quarantined,” the governor said. “By order. Will be enforced. Enforceable by law.”

An executive order signed by Raimondo on Thursday imposes a mandatory quarantine on anyone who enters RI through passenger vehicle, train or bus from New York. The travellers must provide their information to law enforcement and self quarantine for two weeks — as well as anyone who has been to New York in the last two weeks.

Police and the National Guard will additionally collect the addresses, phone numbers, and names of their family members. The information collected on people will be used to monitor them for contact tracing and make sure they are following the quarantine orders.

“National Guard members will be stationed at the T.F. Green airport, Amtrak train stations and at bus stops. The citizen-soldiers will be following up with people at local residences. The maximum penalty for not complying: a fine of $500 and 90 days in prison,” Bloomberg reports.

The order does not apply to public health, public safety, or health-care workers.

“I understand this is an extreme measure,” the governor said during the news conference. But New York City and the metropolitan area around it, she said, “is a hot zone and the infection rate is skyrocketing.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has blasted the order on Fourth Amendment grounds.

“While the Governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” Rhode Island ACLU executive director Steven Brown said in a statement. “Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be.”

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