CALIFORNIA—The Trump administration sent a letter Friday, May 22 to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressing concerns about recent statements that stay-at-home orders may last up to three months longer.
Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights Division, pointed to public comments made by Garcetti and Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s director of public health.
“Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you suggested the possibility of long-term lockdown of the residents in the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for such restrictions,” Dreiband wrote.
He noted that such an approach may be arbitrary and unlawful.
“Even in times of emergency, when governments may impose reasonable and temporary restrictions, the Constitution and federal statutory law prohibit arbitrary, unreasonable actions.”
Garcetti responded to the criticism at a news briefing Friday, saying that the extension of stay-at-home orders best serves public health interests. “We were able to do this and save lives,” he said.
The mayor had issued the Safer At Home order on March 19 and has extended it twice. He also noted that the orders may be long-term.
“We’ll never be completely open until we have a cure,” Garcetti said on May 13.
In recent weeks, however, the city has loosened some restrictions. Beaches are reopened for physical activities such as swimming, surfing, and running. Golf courses and tennis courts are also open, while retail stores now allow curbside pickup.