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6 Things That Are Now Illegal After COVID-19

Coronavirus 3D image.
By Kellie Pantekoek, Esq. on April 08, 2020

It's pretty jarring to think back on what you were able to do a month ago that you can't do now. Maybe it's going to the gym or working from your favorite coffee shop. Or maybe it's aimlessly wandering the aisles at Target, touching more items than you buy.

COVID-19 has changed our lives — and our laws — immensely over the past several weeks. Governing bodies have the power to take extraordinary measures to protect public health, as we are seeing in the orders that are being made.

Here is a roundup of things that used to be perfectly legal but are against the law today.

1. Shaking Hands

Alabama lawmakers are urging residents to "fist bump" instead of shaking hands. The Alabama bill, which is awaiting approval by the governor, is intended to discourage handshaking more than outlaw it, but it serves as an example of one way that human interactions have really changed since COVID-19.

2. Evictions

Many states have passed laws that temporarily stop evictions for 30 to 90 days (which could be extended longer). Some states, like Pennsylvania, made evictions legally impossible by closing eviction courts during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

3. Price Gouging

Marking up prices when supplies are limited is common in the world of retail, but it becomes illegal in many jurisdictions during an emergency. Price gouging involves taking advantage of spikes in demand by charging exorbitant prices for necessities. We have an updated list here of all the states that have enacted price gouging laws during the pandemic.

4. Leaving the House

If you are like most Americans, you are under a shelter-in-place order right now, meaning you can only leave the house for essential functions like grocery shopping, visiting the doctor, exercising or caring for a loved one. While most jurisdictions aren't using police to enforce the orders, it's unreal to think that you could be breaking the law just by leaving your house.

5. Coughing on Someone

There have been numerous reports of people coughing on others or licking items in public as a way to threaten others or mock the coronavirus outbreak. Because of the current public health crisis, these actions can be considered criminal harassment or assault — or even domestic terrorism or making terroristic threats.

6. Traveling

There are currently travel restrictions in place barring foreign nationals from certain countries from entering the U.S. Additionally, states are ramping up their own border protection measures by requiring people who enter the state from certain areas to self-quarantine for two weeks. Travel that was once easy and liberal is now difficult and contained for many.

As the U.S. and the rest of the world deal with the coronavirus outbreak, there will likely be new things added to the list. At least we can take solace in knowing that these changes won't last forever. Sooner or later, we will be back to shaking hands, traveling the world, and paying way too much for the “hot item" on Amazon.

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