- Idaho residents are rebelling against the state’s stay-at-home order, saying the ban on public gatherings and closure of nonessential businesses violates the Constitution.
- Libertarian activists have urged residents to rally together, “disobey,” and protest the coronavirus restrictions.
- Ammon Bundy, the rancher and who led the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2016, also organised a large Easter gathering with no apparent safety precautions.
- “I want the virus now,” Bundy said.
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Idaho’s coronavirus-related restrictions are under attack throughout the state as residents organise public gatherings and rallies demand businesses reopen.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a stay-at-home order on March 25, banning all nonessential gatherings and shuttering all nonessential businesses. He recently extended the order until the end of April, angering some who have argued that the rules violate their constitutional rights.
“You have to disobey,” urged Wayne Hoffman, the president of the libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation, in a Facebook Live broadcast on Wednesday. “You have to do what’s best for your business, you have to do what’s best for your employees and your customers. You have to do what’s best for your livelihoods and your families.”
He continued: “There are more of us than there are of them.”
— Idaho Freedom Foundation (@idahofreedom) April 15, 2020
The restrictions have also sparked the ire of Ammon Bundy, the famed rancher and libertarian activist who led the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in 2016.
Bundy, who lives in Idaho, has organised a number of gatherings, including an Easter service that drew what appeared to be dozens of residents in a venue for a church service.
Photos showed the attendees sitting close together on fold-up chairs, none of whom wore masks or kept a distance of six feet, as public-health experts have recommended.
Bundy has argued to media and in Facebook videos that governments around the world are using the coronavirus as an excuse to “destroy the agency of man.”
“I want the virus now,” Bundy said, according to The New York Times.
The state has so far reported more than 1,400 cases of the coronavirus and 39 deaths from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins’ tally.
A lawmaker and a sheriff have been openly critical of the coronavirus restrictions, saying they violate the Constitution
One Idaho lawmaker, State Rep. Heather Scott, urged residents to “push back” against the state’s stay-at-home order and exercise their constitutional rights to peacefully assemble.
In a letter titled “The virus that tried to kill the Constitution,” Scott warned that citizens were facing “increasing restrictions of civil liberties during a climate of relentless fear mongering and media hysteria.”
Some members of law enforcement, too, have questioned Little’s order. Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler released an open letter urging Little to change course.
“In the spirit of liberty and the Constitution, you can request those that are sick to stay home, but, at the same time, you must release the rest of us to go on with our normal business,” he wrote. “I do not believe that suspending the Constitution was wise, because COVID-19 is nothing like the Plague. We were misled by some Public Health Officials, and now it is time to reinstate our Constitution.”
Idaho medical experts have reacted to the backlash with distress, saying the stay-at-home order was meant to slow the virus’ transmission and thereby protect vulnerable residents and reduce the pressure on hospitals.
“Don’t take legal advice from a doctor,” Dr. Benjamin Good of Bonner General Health told The New York Times. “And don’t take medical advice from a sheriff.”
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