by WorldTribune Staff, May 18, 2020
Former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson, one of the early coronavirus lockdown contrarians, tweeted on Monday: “No other way to say this: The lockdown governors are losing their minds.”
Berenson pointed to Washington state, where Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee planned to unleash an army of more than 1,300 contact tracers, which includes National Guard personnel. “People are to quarantine immediately for 14-days upon experiencing the first systems. This includes entire households,” the governor said.
After intense criticism, Inslee walked back his order to have all restaurants and other businesses such as car washes keep a daily log recording all customers’ personal information. Inslee extended his lockdown order through the end of May.
Further, a report noted: “For those businesses/individuals that don’t comply, the governor stated that he confirmed with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, there will be sanctions in civil or criminal court.”
A citizen in Vancouver, Washington tweeted: “500,000 ppl in our county near Portland, OR. We have SEVEN people in the hospital with this. We are being held hostage by Jay Inslee, who can’t even get the UI he promised right. 9 weeks no income, no help from the state. I give it 2 weeks until riots.”
Another tweeted, referring to nearby Portland, Oregon: “Definitely. Especially with Oregon opening it’s going to be very hard on downtown Vancouver, seeing businesses open 2 miles away over the border and not being able to be open themselves.”
The first poster then tweeted: “EXACTLY! This is going to KILL Vancouver. Instead of people going across the bridge to save sales tax, they will be going across the bridge for everything. And us small biz owners will stay closed and go broke.”
Attorney General William Barr in late April directed prosecutors to “be on the lookout” for local coronavirus restrictions that violate the Constitution.
“If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court,” Barr said.
Berenson also pointed to Illinois, where Democratic Gov. J.B. Prtizker on Friday “tried to ram through an emergency order that would sanction misdemeanor criminal penalties against businesses that reopen if he says they can’t.”
Defying the order would be a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of $75 to $2,500, according to Illinois state law.
Previously, Pritzker warned that businesses violating his stay-at-home order could face liability issues, with insurance companies potentially canceling policies for those violating state laws. The Democrat also said his administration would consider other actions, including revoking liquor licenses or withholding federal relief funds from entities violating the order.
“These rules are a legal overreach and beyond the scope of the governor’s authority,” state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement. “It will be a dark day in Illinois when we charge small businesses with a jailable crime for salvaging their livelihoods.”
Under the so-called Phase Three of Pritzker’s plan, non-essential businesses, including hair salons and spas, can reopen with capacity limitations and safety procedures in place by the end of May. Restaurants would not be allowed to open to dine-in service until Phase Four of the plan, which currently can’t go into effect until at least June 26.
New Jersey: A gym opened on Monday in defiance of Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order.
“We made the decision to open,” Ian Smith, the owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr told “Fox & Friends”, saying the decision was made jointly by the gym staff and the community.
Smith vowed to keep opening up throughout the week even if police arrive to enforce the stay-at-home order.
“We will not stand down,” he said, speaking alongside his business partner and a crowd of supporters who are upset that “big box” stores like Walmart have been allowed to stay open amid the pandemic while small businesses struggle to survive.
The police did in fact show up, and told Smith, his employees and their patrons to “have a good day.”
— Atilis Gym Bellmawr (@TheAtilisGym) May 18, 2020
California: The Atwater City Council on Friday voted to declare itself a coronavirus lockdown “sanctuary city”, allowing all businesses in the city of 30,000 in Merced County to reopen.
Atwater will also allow all non-profits, such as places of worship, to open.
“This is America,” said Atwater Mayor Paul Creighton. “You have the choice. It’s time for the government to stop dictating another month, another three months, six months. When is it going to end? When everyone is bankrupt?”
Pennsylvania: Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf berated local elected officials who were making plans to reopen in defiance of his lockdown orders. Wolf characterized the defiant officials as cowards deserting the pandemic battlefield and threatened to block aid to rebellious Pennsylvania counties.
“The politicians who are encouraging the people they were elected to lead to quit the fight are acting in a most cowardly way,” said Wolf, asserting they are “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy.”
Wolf’s many critics say his lockdown orders have been arbitrary and illogical.
“You can only govern if the people are willing to be governed, and the governor has clearly lost his crowd,” said state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, a Republican.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails.”
York County restaurant owner Themi Sacarellos reopened his two diners on May 10 and offered table service — something that is still prohibited everywhere in the state.
Wolf warned those who defy his order that they risk losing their businesses licenses, certificates of occupancy and other required governmental approvals to operate.
“We don’t believe we’re defying the governor’s orders,” Sacarellos said. “We believe he’s defying the people.”
An April survey published by Main Street America, a network of small businesses, predicts that nearly 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing permanently by August.