Connecticut begins fining people violating "travel advisory"

In the state of Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont has been busy issuing executive orders regarding travel and isolation during the pandemic. One such rule states that people should not travel to any of 32 states on the “banned list” and that if they do, certain forms must be filled out immediately upon their return and certain restrictions must be observed. Apparently, Lamont wants everyone to take his rules seriously because the state just issued fines to two people who traveled to Florida and Louisiana respectively. Upon their return, they failed to fill out the forms and have now been fined $1,000 each. One of the two also failed to quarantine himself for 14 days and was slapped with an additional $1,000 fine for that offense. Clearly, these fines can add up pretty quickly. (NY Post)

Connecticut on Monday issued its first $1,000 fines to two residents who failed to fill out health forms required upon returning home from states with high coronavirus infection rates.

The residents who were fined traveled back to Connecticut from Louisiana and Florida several weeks ago, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

One of the two also neglected to quarantine for the state’s mandated 14 days, landing the unidentified violator an additional $1,000 fine.

“I hate to do it, but we’re going to be serious and show people we’re serious about this,” Lamont said.

The two men reside in different counties and there was no indication of any connection between the two. They both just ran afoul of the Governor’s executive orders.

But how was the determination made that the men were in violation of the rules? Who issued the fines, and was there any hearing, legal representation offered or avenue of appeal? Details from the linked report were slim, but some additional coverage from NBC Connecticut went a bit deeper.

The fines were issued by the Department of Public Health based on tips received, as indicated in a statement from Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe. So the Department of Public Health can simply send out a form saying you have to send in one or two thousand dollars because you broke the Governor’s rules? Perhaps even more ominous was the phrase “based on tips received.”

I’m going to go out on a limb in the hopeful direction here and assume (for the moment) that some sort of investigation was done. Otherwise, anyone with a grudge against their neighbor can simply drop a dime to the DPH and cause thousands of dollars in fines to come crashing down on a person’s head.

But even if you’re out driving around and you blow through a red light and get caught on a traffic camera, you might get a ticket in the mail but you at least have the option of going to court and contesting it. Are Connecticut citizens who are snitched on for traveling and failing to fill out documents offered that opportunity? And how many investigators does the state of Connecticut have available to camp outside of some citizen’s house for two weeks and make sure that they’re remaining in quarantine?

This carries the stench of even more executive authority madness. While I understand that we still need to keep a lid on this virus and some sacrifices will need to be made all the way around, such executive orders seem to be seriously trampling on the rights of individuals who are offered no recourse to due process. If you give an authoritarian and inch of power, they’ll soon be grabbing for a mile. And a deeper look needs to be taken into just how Ned Lamont is structuring these orders and how and when they are being enforced.