Florida residents Jose Freire Interian and his wife, Yohana Anahi Gonzalez, were arrested on Wednesday for violating quarantine orders after being diagnosed with COVID.
They were charged with breaking quarantine during a public health emergency and violating emergency management – both considered second-degree misdemeanor charges in Key West.
Key West City Manager Greg Veliz said of the arrest, “If the law allows someone to be arrested for violating a quarantine order and they continue to thumb their nose at the law – yeah, they should be arrested.”
As reported by the Miami Herald, the couple tested positive for COVID on July 15th and were required by the Florida Department of Health to self-isolate for 14 days.
On July 20th, the couple was reported to have gone to the grocery store. The activity was reported to authorities and the couple was ordered again to stay home until July 31st.
On Wednesday, Interian took his dog for a walk. A neighbor recorded his activity on video and submitted the video to the police. Police officers showed up later that afternoon with arrest warrants for both Interian and Gonzalez.
The couple posted bail on Thursday and have a court date for August 10th. If convicted, they could face up to 60 days in jail.
While these arrests have been rare nationwide, they do raise concern about the power of the state over citizens’ activities during a health emergency.
Florida Statute 381.00315 does give the State Health Officer the power to subject any individual who “poses a danger to the public health” to isolation or quarantine, enforceable by law enforcement.
Interian and Gonzalez have not been the only ones who have faced arrest for violating quarantine.
A couple in Kentucky was placed on house arrest, complete with ankle monitors, earlier this month after the wife tested positive for COVID.
In Hawaii, out-of-state travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days. 182 people have so far been arrested for violating quarantine orders.