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The Justice Department civil rights chief wrote in a firm letter to Los Angeles officials on Friday that he was concerned that the mayor and county health director were taking “an arbitrary and awkward to maintain living conditions at home. ” . “
The letter from Eric Dreiband, deputy attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, came in response to comments from Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who said in an interview with “Good Morning America” last week that the city ”will never be fully open until we have a cure” for the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,600 people in California.
“I think we all have to recognize that we don’t go beyond Covid-19, we learn to live with it,” said Garcetti.
Dreiband also noted recent remarks by Los Angeles County director of public health, Barbara Ferrer, who said last week that “some certainty” some form of home stay restrictions will remain in place for 10 million inhabitants of the county “for the next three months”. Ferrer then clarified his remarks, stating that “if the Safer at Home orders remain in effect for the next few months, the restrictions will be gradually relaxed.”
Earlier this month, California began reopening the state’s economy, allowing some retail stores, manufacturers and logistics companies to return on May 8. At least 43 of the 58 counties in the state have been allowed to open even more, allowing additional shopping and dining in Restaurants. Los Angeles, however, where more than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded, has progressed more slowly.
The DOJ warning: Dreiband warned in his letter to Garcetti and Ferrer that the continuing restrictions could be “arbitrary and illegal”.
“Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you have suggested the possibility of a long-term foreclosure for residents of the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for these restrictions. Such an approach can be both arbitrary and illegal, ”he said.
While local authorities may impose restrictions on citizens to protect their safety during emergency situations, Dreiband warned that “the Constitution and federal statutory law prohibit arbitrary and unreasonable actions”.
“Simply put, there are no pandemic exceptions to the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” he said.