ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland State Police said they won't go out of their way to stop travelers and ask them whether their trip is essential, but they will enforce the state's stay-at-home order if it is connected to another investigation.
Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order Monday that mandates Marylanders only leave their homes for essential reasons to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
If an individual chooses to disobey the order, they face a misdemeanor charge that carries a fine and possible jail time.
Maryland State Police said they won't go out of their way and make traffic stops to ask drivers where they are going, but, when they are called to a scene or an investigation, if the trooper learns that an individual was involved in non-essential travel, the law will be enforced, Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III said in a statement.
Residents in Maryland don't need documentation describing the reason for their travel, but having documentation can help resolve questions, MSP said.
Troopers continue to enforce actions on groups of more than 10 people in the state. This violation also applies to businesses, officials said.
During the stay-at-home order, residents are still allowed to do certain essential things such as:
- Go to the grocery store to buy groceries, or supplies for you and/or your household.
- Engaging in activities that are essential for your health and safety of one's self, family, household members, pets, or livestock, including such things as seeking medical or behavioral health or emergency services, and obtaining medication or medical supplies.
- Caring for a family member, friend, pet, or livestock in another household or location, including, transporting a family member, friend, pet, or livestock animal for essential health and safety activities and to obtain necessary supplies and services.
- Traveling to and from an educational institution to receive meals or instructional materials for distance learning.
- Engaging in outdoor exercises, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking while abiding by CDC social distancing guidelines.
- Go to a restaurant for drive-through or carryout only.
MSP said it is enforcing the law according to the above guidelines. If charged and convicted, residents face up to a $5,000 fine and one year in jail for not abiding by the order.
Montgomery County Maryland is adopting a similar policy.
"We will not randomly stop community members for compliance checks of the Governor’s orders," a statement from the agency said.
However, the department noted: “If we encounter people via a traffic stop, police call for service, investigations or a gathering of individuals, we will inquire if individuals are in compliance with the Governor’s Order.”
In Prince George's County officers have been instructed that arrests for violations of the stay at home order are not the first priority.
"This is about taking care of people," Prince George's County police chief Hank Stawinski said. "We're not looking to use the executive order as a tool to go about enforcement activities. That’s why our approach is engage, inform and encourage."
Stawinski said there has been one arrest under the order. It occurred after officers responded to a trespassing complaint and found a group of people on a property.
The crowd dispersed, but the person who was arrested did not comply, according to Stawinski.