One Tulsa, Oklahoma, bar owner said more than a dozen motorcyclists showed up unannounced, but he served them a round of shots anyway to celebrate a birthday. Another live-streamed a drag queen show on Facebook while up to 20 people drank inside the locked bar, ignoring police when they knocked on the door.
Both were busted — and received misdemeanor citations and court dates — after police responded to tips that the bars were violating the mayor’s order shuttering all nonessential businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“There has to be some consequence for violating an executive order,” said Tulsa Police Lt. Richard Meulenberg.
Snitches are emerging as enthusiastic allies as cities, states and countries work to enforce directives meant to limit person-to-person contact amid the virus pandemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives worldwide. They’re phoning police and municipal hotlines, complaining to elected officials and shaming perceived scofflaws on social media.
In hard-hit New York City, police arrested the owner of an illegal Brooklyn speakeasy where a dozen people were found drinking and gambling after someone called 311 with a tip.
In Chicago, a yoga studio that believed it qualified as an essential health and wellness service was closed after the city — tipped off by several residents — disagreed. Teacher Naveed Abidi of Bikram Yoga West Loop studio said he thought the studio could remain open if the space was sanitized, class size limited and students stayed far enough apart.
“If we were naughty with the government’s order, then we’re very, very sorry” said Abidi, who faces a fine of up to $10,000. “We’re not here to cause problems, we’re here to practice our poses.”
For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.