A closer look

Hundreds of people gather to protest stay-at-home order extensions and ironically violate social distancing measures

More stories from Ta'Leah Van Sistine

Life in the city
December 8, 2021

Just days after 16 states extended their stay-at-home orders, protests erupted across the nation on Saturday. The protests have caused concern, as many participants didn’t follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines

Columbus, Ohio; Austin, Texas and Brookfield, Wis. were protest sites that provided a clear image of rebellion, with hundreds of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder and not wearing face masks. 

When more than 200 protestors also gathered in Huntington Beach, Calif., the city’s police department said they understood “emotions are high” during this time, but reminded people that assembling in a large group wouldn’t be beneficial. 

“We are asking our community and those that visit Huntington Beach to remember we are under an Executive Order by the State, which specifically states all residents of California should stay at home in an effort to help flatten the curve in regard to community spread of COVID-19,” Huntington Police said in a statement, according to ABC News. “The more people are out and gathered in groups, the more COVID-19 will spread in our community and endanger lives.”

Organizers for the “Reopen Maryland” protest in Annapolis, Md., on the other hand, asked attendees to remain in their vehicles and “keep their messaging respectful.”

An article by Politico said California and Maryland are among the states that have not set end dates for their stay-at-home orders yet, where Ohio’s order has been extended until May 1 and Wisconsin’s until May 26.

Some of these states are creating “regional pacts,” according to Politico, where Gov. Gavin Newsom of California will work with the leaders of Oregon and Washington to coordinate when they will begin to loosen restrictions.

Governors from Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are also forming a pact to formally decide when they will lift their orders.

Protests began after President Donald Trump shared a series of tweets written in all caps that called for Minnesota, Virginia and Michigan to be “liberated” from their stay-at-home orders. 

Trump explained during his Friday briefing — before the protests on Saturday — that he believed some measures imposed by Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia had been “too tough.”

A video from The New York Times shows protestors in Texas shouting “Let us work” and an article from The Guardian said they also yelled “Fire Fauci,” regarding Anthony Fauci, the top public health official on the White House COVID-19 task force. 

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a protestor named Paul Matson from Menomonee Falls said he participated in the demonstration in Brookfield, Wis. because he believes parts of the state should open up.

“It’s time to open something,” Matson said. “This isn’t common throughout the state. It’s common in Milwaukee. It’s common in Madison. Lock them down. I don’t need to be locked down. I can be respectful. I have a mask in my car. If I go shopping I’m wearing it. I have hand sanitizer. I’m washing my hands. No reason for all this over-reaction.”

Despite the hundreds of people that protested against their state’s stay-at-home orders, a recent Pew Research Center survey of about 5,000 American adults indicates that more people are concerned that restrictions will be lifted too soon.

“Two-thirds of Americans fear that state governments will lift restrictions on public activity too quickly,” an article by The Guardian said, “compared with only one third who worry they will not do so quickly enough.”

Van Sistine can be reached at [email protected].