A mother of six is facing jail time for violating a stay at home order issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to police.
Idaho residents are mandated to stay at home except for so-called essential trips under Gov. Brad Little’s executive order.
Christa Thompson, a mother of six, was accused by the Rathdrum Police Department of violating the order by holding a yard sale for seven days.
Officers informed Thompson on April 9 that holding a yard sale was in violation to Little’s order. Another officer reported the next day that the homeowner would remove yard sale signs and that the owners were “sorting items” in the yard, not holding a yard sale.
Rathdrum Police Chief Tomi McLean said in a statement that a listing on “Craig’s list (sic)” on April 13 stated the homeowners were having a yard sale, prompting an officer to go back and issue a written warning.
On April 17, police officers found “a large quantity of items were still out in the front yard and sales transactions were occurring while police were present,” prompting officers to issue the homeowner a citation.
Police did not name Thompson but her husband identified her to a local paper.
Peter Thompson told the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press that officers stopped by during the second weekend of April.
“They told us we couldn’t have a yard sale, that it violated the governor’s order. I asked them if we could sort some things out on the lawn, and if it was OK to sell a few things to some people. They said, ‘Sure, as long as there’s no signs or advertising or anything like that. So we didn’t,'” he said.
“I talked to my lawyer,” Peter said. “He said we’re not doing anything wrong. I don’t consider this a business, you know? We’re just sorting it and getting rid of it as we go.”
Christa Thompson was ordered to appear in court on May 8.
Criticized over the citation, the Rathdrum Police Department on Monday posted a picture of baked goods it received from local residents. “In the midst of all this misunderstanding and misinformation being put out, it is so nice to have so many people say they care about us and understand we are in a tough position,” it said.
Little announced his order on March 25, stating in part: “With confirmed community transmission of coronavirus now occurring in Idaho’s most populated areas, we need to take strong measures to ensure our healthcare facilities are not overburdened.”
The order requires people to self-isolate at home unless they’re leaving “to obtain or provide essential services” such as getting groceries or medicine. The order also required the closure of bars, gyms, and other businesses deemed non-essential.
The mandate was originally in place for three weeks but Little extended it last week until April 30.
Violators of the governor’s order face a misdemeanor, according to the state’s attorney general, Lawrence Wasden, citing provision 7c in this law. People can be punished with up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.