Barr says U.S. leaders must be careful ‘draconian’ virus lockdown measures don’t trample rights

(USA Features) Attorney General William Barr said Thursday he hoped that leaders who have imposed strict lockdown measures due to coronavirus are careful not to unnecessarily infringe on constitutional and civil rights.

“I think, you know, when this, when this period of time at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed. But allow them to use other ways, social distancing and other means, to protect themselves,” Barr said Wednesday on Fox News.

“I think we have to be very careful to make sure … that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified, and there are not alternative ways of protecting people,” he added.

On March 20, the White House extended federal guidelines that urged people to practice social distancing and limit travel outside of homes until April 30.

Since the administration first issued guidelines earlier last month, dozens of states have adopted measures that require social distancing, ordering “non-essential” businesses like bars, restaurants, and other small businesses closed.

The result has been a disaster for the U.S. economy. Jobless claims have skyrocketed over the past three weeks, with nearly 10 percent of the workforce sidelined.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted he wants to reopen the country “sooner rather than later,” but has also qualified that by saying people must return to work “safely.”

Some government health experts have said the social distancing is slowing the spread of the virus, but that widespread nationwide testing for COVID-19 must be available before things can return to normal.

Conservative pundits and politicians, however, believe that many of the measures that have been taken are too harsh, and Barr seems to share that sentiment.

“I’m very concerned about the slippery slope in terms of continuing encroachments on personal liberty,” Barr told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “I do think during the emergency, appropriate, reasonable steps are fine.”

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