In Maryland, some need reminding about social distancing

In recent weeks, Maryland has rushed to limit the spread of the new coronavirus by progressively tightening restrictions on large gatherings and putting a stop to all business deemed nonessential.

For the most part it’s working, but of course there are exceptions. And in at least one case, authorities said, flat out defiance.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office arrested 41-year-old Shawn Myers of Hughesville on Friday night, charging him with violating Gov. Larry Hogan’s order restricting gatherings to more than 10 people, after he hosted a bonfire with an estimated 60 others in attendance.

Authorities there say Myers refused orders to break up the party and send everyone home, prompting his arrest.

Hogan highlighted the case on this Twitter feed, saying “I cannot begin to express my disgust towards such irresponsible, reckless behavior,” and he vowed police will respond aggressively to similar incidents that “are endangering the lives of your fellow Marylanders.”

A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday morning, with online records suggesting he is still in jail right now.

The sheriff’s office said it also sent deputies to his home for the same reason last weekend too, though that time he complied with orders to break up the party.

With the emergency orders still in effect, it is up to local police departments to enforce the prohibition on large gatherings and nonessential business. And so far, it seems like people are generally willing to cooperate before things escalate.

Both the Annapolis Police Department and Anne Arundel County Police tell the Capital Gazette that they’ve responded to a handful of calls about large gatherings and nonessential businesses being open, despite the orders issued by the governor.

In some cases, the business being conducted ended up falling under the definition of essential. But in other cases, and when too many people were gathered together, the departments said they were generally able to break things up without too much fuss.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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