Lujan Grisham’s Lockdown Theater
States are re-imposing restrictions on commerce and personal behavior in an attempt to limit the rise in coronavirus infections. Some of those orders are so sweeping, they raise questions about both their effectiveness and the reasoning behind them.
As Jacob Sullum writes, New Mexico’s governor took a particularly harsh approach to activities of all sort before and just after the Thanksgiving holiday:
Under a two-week order that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued this month, golf courses and state parks “must reduce in-person operations by 100%.” The order also tells residents, “You really should not be leaving the house unless it’s an emergency or for an essential need like food and water.” Residents who do venture beyond their doorsteps “must wear a mask,” indoors and out, regardless of how close they are to people from other households. The only exceptions are for people who are “drinking, eating, or under medical instruction.” The rules explicitly say people must “wear face-coverings while exercising,” even “outdoors.”
New Mexico had previously recognized that people could engage in outdoor activities with minimal risk of catching or transmitting the coronavirus. It described in detail “safe practices for golf courses,” for example. Given that the scientific evidence regarding virus transmission has not changed since those guidelines were issued, it is hard to see why closing off outdoor recreation opportunities is justified now. You might think preserving those opportunities is especially important at a time when private, indoor gatherings are being blamed (without much evidence) for driving a spike in new cases.
Evidence or no, Lujan Grisham’s order was set to expire Nov. 30. Gov. Lujan Grisham is also on president-elect Joe Biden’s short list to become Health and Human Services Secretary. According to the Albuquerque Journal:
The governor has repeatedly attracted national attention this year for her aggressive steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including the two-week shutdown order in effect through Monday.