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Strict 'Stay-at-Home' Orders Spur Protests Across the Nation

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Discussion over reopening the shattered United States economy has been swirling for days but some local governments and lawmakers have instituted nearly draconian rules for citizens that have stirred revolt. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer decreed last week that "non-essential" sections within grocery and retail stores otherwise considered "essential" would be closed off to the public. Citing concern for the safety of the public, Whitmer's enforcement of said policy angered many residents who noted that the new rule prevented them from accessing many needed items, like fruit and vegetable seeds. 

The Democratic governor also banned all gatherings in the state as part of her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, regardless of gathering size or familial relation. All trips to vacation residences within the state, boating activities, and access to areas of stores that are "dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint," were all banned with the threat of misdemeanor charge for violation. 

Despite global discussion of re-opening the economy and data that shows slow downs of new COVID-19 cases, however, Whitmer went forward with her restrictions, unmoved by her constituents' concerns about government overreach. This week, tens of thousands of concerned Michigan residents are fighting back against new rules they feel to be unnecessary. 

"Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people," said protest organizer Meshawn Maddock. "Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don’t need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful."

The Tuesday protest in the state capital of Lansing will consist of about 15,000 vehicles in a "drive-by" demonstration dubbed "Operation Gridlock," designed to block traffic from the downtown area. An online petition to have Whitmer recalled, circulated by Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine, received more than 200,000 signatures online

Elsewhere in the country, Americans fed up with tightening restrictions in areas they perceive to be lower risk for mass infection by the Wuhan virus have also sounded the alarm. More than 20,000 people in North Carolina were planning a Tuesday protest as well, citing the relatively low impact COVID-19 had thus far had on their state. 

In Columbus, Ohio last week, protesters donned Guy Fawkes masks while carrying signs calling for an end to strict mitigation enforcement. Calls for Republican Governor DeWine's registration sounded along with signs that read, "Open Ohio," and "Quarantine worse than the virus."

DeWine acknowledged the protestor's first amendment rights but stood firm in the decision to keep restrict the resident's way of life. 

"The people who are outside have every right to be out there and say what they want to say," Gov. DeWine said. "We’re not going to keep these orders on one day longer than we have to. What I’m asking Ohioans to do is hang in there."

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