Goldwater Takes On Government’s COVID Overreach

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While COVID-19 curfews and closures may be adopted with good intentions, these government efforts to stop the spread of COVID have often backfired. And sometimes, these efforts are even unlawful.

Earlier this week, a Pima County Superior Court judge ruled that the county’s 10 pm to 5 am curfew violates state law and cannot be enforced. The lawsuit—brought by a group of business owners and supported by an amicus brief from the Goldwater Institute—argued that the county’s order, forcing all people to stay out of public places during those hours, violates state law as well as the executive order issued by Governor Doug Ducey in May. As Goldwater Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur told Tucson’s KGUN 9 this week, “The county does have authority to impose curfews in certain emergency situations there, but Arizona law only allows counties to impose emergency curfews to prevent violence or breaches of the peace, and it doesn’t allow curfews, in the case of a pandemic.”

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And in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently did an about-face on the question of restaurant closures in the Windy City. Now, she’s calling on the state to reopen restaurants and bars “as quickly as possible.” Her reason? People are getting together anyway, and since the government can’t effectively regulate what happens behind closed doors, it’s safer to let them gather in the open.

Sandefur writes at In Defense of Liberty, “mandates and compulsory curfews increase the likelihood of confrontations between law enforcement and citizens—confrontations that can turn violent, or result in people being taken to jail, where their exposure to COVID-19 is probably higher.” And as the Chicago story shows, “curfews are more likely to encourage people to congregate in secret, in confined places where there is a greater risk of infection, rather than in relatively safer outdoor business places.”

Private actors are much better at dealing with and adjusting to the realities of COVID than are government central planners. And that’s why Goldwater is standing up to government overreach where it exists across the country.

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This article is an excerpt from the Defense of Liberty Blog, published January 23, 2021 by the Goldwater Institute.

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