Agencies explicitly ignoring law violations-how common?

A couple of times recently, due to the pandemic, I have heard US federal agencies explicitly tell members of the public that while they can’t waive a given regulation, they assure people that they will not investigate violations of the rule.

An example is using Zoom or Skype for medical exams. As I understand it, neither of those platforms are certified to meet the privacy requirements under HIPPA. The centers for medicare and medicaid services are telling doctors to go ahead anyway. Today I heard something similar from the Small Business Admin regarding CARE loans that run counter to long-standing Government regulations. Neither agency has the legal authority to waive the regulations in question, at least not quickly, so they are just telling the public to go ahead and don’t worry about getting in trouble.

I know that the Federal Gov’t has long held that they can pick and choose what laws they enforce-they are prioritizing their scarce resources-but publicly telling the public to ignore the law and the Feds promise not to do anything is new to me.

Have people heard of this kind of public promise being made before the current crisis?

That’s exactly what the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program is, albeit on a more elaborate and formalized basis. President Obama did not have the statutory authority to change the immigration status of undocumented aliens who arrived as children, so instead he instituted a formalized program to register them and use his prosecutorial discretion to defer prosecuting or deporting them indefinitely.

Also, this is exactly the situation with regards to Federal law enforcement and marijuana in states where it has been legalized. Distributing marijuana is still a Federal crime throughout the United States, but the Obama administration basically said as long as growers, dispensaries, etc. followed the relevant laws in their states, the Federal government wouldn’t take legal action against them. After initially making some noises about reversing this, the Trump administration in practice has followed suit.

On the state level, Virginia has a long-standing law against wearing masks in public, aimed at the KKK. While there are some exceptions (Halloween, etc.), the current situation isn’t written into the law. Rather than suspend the law or revise it,* the governor has advised it will not be enforced against medical mask-wearers during the coronavirus crisis.

*Sore subject – this governor (Ralph Northam) had a “blackface” political scandal early in his term, so he’s not politically safe to recommend altering an anti-KKK law. Heh.

The government often does this, and there can be problems if they don’t stick to their promise not to regulate/prosecute. I always forget what the word is, but there is a legal term for the government telling a person they can ignore or break the law, and like most legal matters the details count, so you have to be very careful before you act based on a stated exclusion from the government.

Last I heard, many municipalities had passed anti-mask rules. Presumably armed robbers are now getting a pass on their face covering Covid-19 masks?
Hoodies up are probably still frowned upon as signs of evil intent.

It’s illegal for electric vehicles that cannot exceed a certain speed to be in the road, but no one tickets electric wheelchair users for being in the road, when there either is no sidewalk, and they would have to go over grass or gravel, or the sidewalk does not have curb cutaways (some sidewalks outside municipalities are exempt from having them). This is especially true if the chair has an orange flag to make it more visible to traffic.

There’s a guy in the city where I used to live who had a long ride home from work along a street with no sidewalk, and he had a slow-moving vehicle symbol on the back of his chair, in addition to his orange flag.

Just another example.

I’ve seen several examples of an Agency saying “we won’t take enforcement under these specific circumstances”. In some cases due to outside events (e.g. flooding), in others due to internal (e.g. a mandatory standard expired but the Agency for some reason wasn’t able to get a replacement in place beforehand, so technically everyone was in violation b/c they didn’t have an official standard to follow; Agency said 'just follow the old one and we won’t take action"). Generally, they’re fairly narrowly written, exclude deliberate violations, etc. etc.
I have never heard of any issue with any of them.

Maine’s department of motor vehicles is closed, no way to register new cars or re-register old ones, so there are tons of “illegal” cars running the roads right now. We’ve been assured we won’t be ticketed for the offense.

Another one I personally ignored when I was a law enforcement officer was young kids riding bikes on the sidewalk. Technically, bicycles are to be ridden in the street, to the right, with traffic. I never told a little kid to get off the sidewalk and ride in the street.

[quote=Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address]
. While the strict legal right may exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating and so nearly impracticable withal that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.*

Taiwan has a regulations against teaching English to kindergarten children to reduce the pressure schools may put on kids, but it’s widely flouted. (I also teach at kindergartens.) The inspectors tell the kindergartens that they will be visiting on such and such a day so that the kindergarten has time to hide the material and to keep foreign teachers away.

the no mask laws usually have an exception for kids on halloween.

Outside of the few big cities, the Klan is strong in Pennsylvania. So we have a ‘no mask’ law for the same reason. Bijou Drains the law has an explicit exception for Halloween and is you’re on your way to a masquerade ball or such. The law came up a lot with protesters at the RNC a few years ago.