Maine residents barricade NJ workers to ‘quarantine’ them, cops say
Three construction workers from New Jersey who were sharing a cabin on an island off the Maine coast while working on a construction project were barricaded by residents who thought they were infected with COVID-19, authorities say.
New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are considered hot spots of the public health emergency in the United States, with the biggest concentration of confirmed cases. The CDC has issued a "strong travel advisory." Rhode Island police began pulling over drivers with New York plates so that the National Guard could collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine, but the practice has since stopped. Florida Gov. Ron DeSanto has ordered people flying into Florida from New York and New Jersey to self quarantine.
Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll said in a statement that the one of the workers on Friday afternoon went to check why the cable went out, and found a tree had been left across the road. Several people gathered around and yelled at the man, who returned to the cabin, according to Carroll.
The tree was cut and dragged into position, according to Carroll.
The men called the Coast Guard for help and used a drone to watch the group until law enforcement arrived, the sheriff said.
Carroll said officers learned that some island residents thought the men were supposed to be quarantined because they were from New Jersey. They had been living in the cabin for the past 30 days and none had symptoms of COVID-19, he said.
"We want to bring to the public's attention the matter of restricting a person's movements within the state. Whether someone is a Maine resident or not, they have the right to free movement and anyone who infringes upon that free movement is potentially violating the law," Carroll said.
No charges have yet been filed.
State Representative Genevieve McDonald on her Facebook page wrote that the men were targeted because of their license plates and had been renting the cabin, located on Cripple Creek Road, since September.
Carroll was not in the office when contacted by New Jersey 101.5 to ask where in New Jersey the men are from.
Knox County is located due east of Maine's capital city of Augusta, along the coast.