Largely confined to their homes and worried about the spread of the coronavirus and its risks to their own health or that of loved ones, a segment of the United States has turned informant, calling the police, public health authorities and the employers of people they believe are violating social-distancing decrees or stay-at-home orders.
Across the country, these complaints have led to shutdowns of dog groomers and massage parlors as well as citations and police scoldings to restaurant and bar owners whose patrons are lingering too close to one another.
The police in Laredo, Texas, expect an uptick in calls from confused citizens reporting what they think are violations of the state’s new, complex directives from the governor that allow, among other things, malls to open up shops — but not food courts, play areas or interactive displays. Rural restaurants can open dining rooms at no more than 50 percent capacity while urban restaurants could have no more than 25 percent capacity.
Tips in mid-April led the police to crack down on a nail salon and an eyelash services business, arresting the operators of each business after an undercover officer was able to book services with them. Each was charged with violating an emergency plan and could face jail time as well as a $2,000 fine.
Public health enforcement officials in Salt Lake County in Utah have closed tattoo parlors, salons and massage parlors in recent days after fielding the more than 500 calls and online submissions complaining about violations of orders in place there, said Ron Lund, the county health department enforcement coordinator.