United States Attorney General William Barr has compared coronavirus shutdowns to “house arrest” and said the Justice Department could take legal action against states. His comments come after President Trump has encouraged protesters to “liberate” certain states from stay-at-home orders intended to slow the virus’ spread.
Speaking on radio programme The Hugh Hewitt Show, Barr said: “These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties. The idea you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest.
“We’re looking carefully at a number of these rules and if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them. If they’re not and people bring lawsuits, we [will] file statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs.”
Barr’s comments come after President Trump on Friday published a series of tweets calling for Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to be “liberated”. Protests have been held in those and other states with people pushing to end lockdown rules.
The United States has the highest number of coronavirus deaths of any country in the world, with more than 46,700 fatalities.