Fox News recently referred to them as “the strictest coronavirus measures in the USA,” but it is fair to argue that California has adopted the right approach to this epidemic and many other states and America’s closest allies should follow California’s example.
‘They Will Adjust and Adapt’
California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state’s “stay at home order” last week, and it applies to all of the state’s 40 million inhabitants. Instead of using the might of the government to force the whole state into a lockdown, which countries such as France and Spain have done, Newsom has rightly recognized that a social contract already exists during these testing times. He said “they will adjust and adapt as they have.” Like libertarian journalist Douglas Murray said: when you allow people to behave responsibly, they act responsibly.
The order took effect at midnight on Friday and it has forced the closure of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, public events, gyms, and convention centers. Countries like France have already done this, and the British Government is starting to do the same thing, but the difference is that French President Emmanuel Macron has done it in an arbitrary way. Neither British Prime Minister Boris Johnson nor Newsom have.
Of course, there will always be a minority who still insist on preventing themselves from being isolated in these circumstances, but lockdowns are both impractical and illogical. As Politico reports, last Sunday French people were still attending food markets and spent time in Parisian parks, ignoring the French Government’s guidelines. The reality is that human nature is inherently selfish, but government actions cannot restrict that sort of behavior entirely through lockdowns.
Social Distancing is Still the Best Way to Stop the Spread of Covid-19
Social distancing has always been the best way to stop the spread of Covid-19. Although it is not clear if Californian businesses that have been shut down will receive financial compensation, people are more likely to catch the virus if they attend unnecessary social gatherings at pubs and restaurants. That is why Newsom has made the right decision by ordering that these venues close.
Newsom has also recognized that some businesses have to stay open and that it would be irresponsible to let the following services shut down entirely at a time when people need their goods. These include: petrol stations, pharmacies, grocery stores and banks, as well as law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.
Critical infrastructure sectors like defense and nuclear reactors will also remain open.
Newsom acknowledged that the shutdown of these sectors would have a “debilitating effect on security, economic security, public health or safety.” This shows that he has adopted a balanced approach to stopping the spread of Covid-19.
Newsom Has Shown He Believes in Common Sense
The Californian Governor’s order encourages people to stay at home and to only venture outside when necessary. Instead of deploying police officers to force them to do this, he has acknowledged that social pressure will ensure that this becomes a reality. Newsom has expressed his faith in basic common sense, and that is needed now more than ever.
The Californian Government has a duty to keep its people safe. According to statistics compiled by John Hopkins University, as of Friday morning California has 1,030 confirmed coronavirus cases and 18 deaths. A letter Newsom wrote to Trump on Wednesday reveals that the governor has anticipated that the virus will infect more than half of California’s population within two months. He also said that the state has been disproportionately impacted.
Based on his response so far, Newsom has shown tremendous leadership in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. He has struck the right balance between individual freedom and state enforcement. His actions deserve more credit than they are currently receiving.