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CBS2 Speaks To Experts About What To Do If You Encounter Someone Who Isn't Practicing Social Distancing Or Wearing A Mask

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The coronavirus pandemic has created a total upheaval in our daily lives, and now we face another dilemma -- how to confront a social distancing rule-breaker.

On Monday, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan spoke to some of you and to the experts.

Young people have been seen drinking on streets of the East Village. Others gathering on Fire Island in large crowds. A shopper in Astoria was caught on video coughing on food and a patron when asked to "mask up."

One man in Florida actually pulled a gun.


What if you saw someone breaking the rules?

"The way I look at it, you just mind your business," one person said.

"You can remind them. Tug on your mask," another person said.

"Otherwise we are not serving you," one business owner said, adding he hasn't had any fights break out.

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Is it a civic duty to report social distancing rule breakers?

"If you confront somebody, you are liable to get into a very uncomfortable argument," one man said.

"You don't escalate a situation. You do want to be a responsible citizen," etiquette expert Myka Meier said.

Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette in the Plaza Hotel, added, "If you become the enforcement agent, people don't usually take well to that."

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She suggests rather than confront, remove yourself. Quietly inform a restaurant manager, merchant, or local authorities.

"Reminded, not assaulted," one man said.

Police and public safety officers say they have been relying on persuasion, not fines, probation or jail, to enforce the public health directive.

"Law enforcement and the Health Department are doing everything that they can," one young man said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said gently and directly ask for compliance. Hand them a mask.

"The last thing we need in today's society is to fire more people up. What we are trying to do is bring it down, educate. Almost everybody complies. Some of the businesses have been a little foolish," Ryder said.

Some slip up accidentally; others intentionally.

"They're yelling 'Trump doesn't wear a mask, neither do I have to wear a mask,'" a man said.

"Etiquette is all about kindness and respect and consideration for everyone," Meier said.

Putting the health of others first is a good way to practice social distancing etiquette.

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