Since the rest of the world seems to be taking a break from regular activities amid the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ll take a break from our regularly-scheduled programming to offer our view of the pandemic through the lens of our favorite topic: First Amendment rights.
China’s response to the outbreak in Wuhan is well-documented. Mandatory quarantines, citywide shutdowns, prohibitions on gatherings, and other such actions were implemented swiftly. We in the United States have not yet seen such a response, and there’s no telling whether such a response will be needed. But because we enjoy more individual liberties than do Chinese citizens, what might be the legal consequences of some of these actions? We offer some thoughts below for state and local regulators: