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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting hammered over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic after he encouraged residents to inform the government if they see people violating social distancing practices.
On Saturday, the mayor posted a video on Twitter in which he gave instructions for how people can take photos of crowds they see in stores or elsewhere, and report locations that are not enforcing the restrictions. De Blasio announced at the end of March that people violating the rules could face fines of up to $500.
“All you’ve got to do is take the photo and put the location with it, and, bang, send a photo like this and we will make sure that enforcement comes right away,” de Blasio said in a video message.
The suggestion was immediately met with derision.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- a personal attorney for President Trump -- blasted de Blasio for "turning people against each other" and "invad[ing[ their usual sense of privacy."
"Urging citizens to film non-compliant individuals reminds me of one of the tactics utilized in the country where he spent his honeymoon, Cuba," Giuliani continued.
Alex Berenson, who has emerged as a vocal critic of strict lockdown measures and a skeptic of widely cited coronavirus prediction models, mocked the mayor for his "brave call for citizens to inform on each other."
Retired NYPD Sgt. Joseph Giacalone warned that if people follow the mayor’s advice, it could lead to even more dangerous situations, telling The New York Post it “could result in acts of random violence.”
Instead of enlisting residents as informants, Giacalone suggested that de Blasio should focus on other pressing issues.
“Maybe he should be figuring out why he didn’t have enough PPEs for cops and EMS workers,” he said.
Fox News reached out to de Blasio’s office for comment, but they did not immediately respond.
The mayor also has been heavily criticized for how he has handled the crisis for seemingly counterintuitive decisions.
In mid-February, de Blasio’s office said there was “nothing to fear” and urged residents to shop in Chinatown and support small businesses. In early March, weeks before Cuomo issued a statewide stay-at-home order, de Blasio said he was “encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus,” and even gave suggestions for activities.
The mayor also resisted early pressure to shut down schools, only to eventually close them in mid-March. Conservative pundit Buck Sexton noted that closing schools and businesses after the virus had already infected many New Yorkers could have put even more people at risk.
On top of this, the decision to cut New York City subway service – which is state-run -- resulted in fewer, more crowded trains – forcing New Yorkers into breaking social distancing practices.
The NYPD’s Sergeant’s Benevolent Association had perhaps the most damning criticism of all, claiming that thousands are dead due to the mayor’s “incompetence,” and that the city would not have been a COVID-19 epicenter if he had acted differently.
De Blasio, however, argues that having New Yorkers tell on each other for not abiding by current guidelines will reduce the number of cases.
"It’s about saving lives,” de Blasio said in his video message. “Sending that photo in is gonna help make sure that people are kept apart, and that’s going to stop the disease from spreading. And that’s going to save lives.”
Fox News' Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.