FOX – California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he’s enacting a “statewide order” for its nearly 40 million residents to “stay at home,” a wide-reaching measure for the most populous state in the country as the Coronavirus spreads.
The order took effect midnight on Friday morning. It prohibits gatherings outside and requires nonessential businesses to close in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. “We need to bend the curve in the state of California,” Newsom said during a news conference. “There’s a social contract here. People, I think, recognize the need to do more. They will adjust and adapt as they have.” See the Gov. Gavin Newsom video below:
Our thoughts turn to, just what does this “stay at home” order mean? Here is the actual order – click here. Did anyone actually read it? You may say that it is written in legal ease, but remember this is a massive order restricting people’s movement under legal penalties. Should it not be written in a way that a regular person could understand?
The order states, “To protect public health, I as State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health order all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, as outlined at https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19.” There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States. So this is mostly geared toward supporting the Calfornia infrastructure during this crisis. So, where is the “stay at home” order? It is contained in just one paragraph of the order:
“The supply chain must continue, and Californians must have access to such necessities as food, prescriptions, and health care. When people need to leave their homes or places of residence, whether to obtain or perform the functions above, or to otherwise facilitate authorized necessary activities, they should at all times practice social distancing.”
The order starts with a wish, “Californians must have access.” Ok, but what does this mean? This sentence is undefined with little clarity. The next sentence is curious. It defines two activities: 1) presumably it refers to “access to such necessities as food, prescriptions, and health care.” and, 2) again presumably the “authorized necessary activities,” as described in these 16 critical infrastructure sectors. But look at the ending clause of the order. All the order really says is that Californians when performing these two activities, they should “practice social distancing,” it says nothing about that you can’t leave for any other reasons. Where is the “stay at home” order? Furthermore, I understand the term “social distancing,” but just what does this mean at a practical level – again undefined.
Later in the order, it defines the penalities as: “This Order shall be enforceable pursuant to California law, including, but not limited to, Government Code section 8665.” Note that the penalties are not limited to this 8665 law. But what is order 8665? Click here and see below a quick summary:
“Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter or who refuses or willfully neglects to obey any lawful order or regulation promulgated or issued as provided in this chapter, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable by a Fine of not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not to exceed six months or by both such fine and imprisonment.”
Perhaps I am being myopic and analyzing the order in too much detail. I suppose one could generalize and extract a “stay at home” order from the vague phrasing. But one thing is clear, California can now Fine you and imprison you for some vague activity. Remember, we are being told that we have an ongoing global pandemic and facing literally a financial depression. Right Wire Report finds this wording of the order disturbing.
Aside from the issue of whether the response to the Coronavirus is appropriate (click here), if one is going to implement such a draconian law, don’t you think one could be more precise in law that the ordinary person could understand? This leaves one to think that either: 1) we have very lazy legal administrators in California, or 2) it was purposely left vague to allow California to do whatever they wish to its population. Which is it?