Over the past few weeks, we have seen a surge in protests against the stay at home orders across many states, orders set to battle the coronavirus. Throughout the state of California, many protests have taken place even though the state is among the most affected.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated shutdown has put many people out of a job and people are understandably frustrated. The public must keep in mind there are many people unemployed that continue to support the stay at home orders for as long as needed.

According to a new poll conducted by AP-NORC (Associated Press-National Opinion Center) “About 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that include requiring Americans to stay in their homes and limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer — numbers that have largely held steady over the past few weeks.”

Still many officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, have been met with much criticism over his handling of the pandemic. Some of the larger protests have been advertised on social media and have taken place in large cities such as the state capitol Sacramento, Huntington Beach, San Diego, etc.

Protestors have every right to protest the orders of the government, especially when they consider government orders to be violating their rights. They argue that their constitutional rights are being violated and they feel the need to protect them.

However, people need to realize they have the right to protest as long as they follow the health guidelines put in place by each state. The protest that took place in Sacramento violated the guidelines and according to The Sacramento Bee, there were “hundreds of others standing shoulder to shoulder cheering them on,” obligating the CHP to state “the protest would be conducted in a manner consistent with the state’s public health guidance. That is not what occurred….”

The CHP response was met by a lawsuit from two Sacramento residents against Newsom after protest permits were denied by the CHP. Permits were denied due to previous violations of health guidelines. 

Stepping out and having their voices heard in the form of a protest is fine, but people can not lie and say they will follow health guidelines and later not follow through. By doing so they risk exposing themselves, those around them, and of course more healthcare workers.

The recent protests were inappropriate as large gatherings are not recommended. People protesting from their cars in front of the capitol and other locations throughout California seem to follow the social distancing guidelines. Hundreds of people gathering together on the side of the streets is not.

The shut down of the protest was the right choice, as large groups of people were exposing themselves and many more. The public is doing something positive by staying home. Protests are not the answer. By staying home we are helping stop the spread of the virus.

The public needs to understand government officials are doing what they can to keep the public safe and prevent greater consequences in the future. Reopening the state too soon may affect the positive progress the state has been able to make, and would be completely counterproductive.

If California residents want the state to open as soon as possible they must stay home. The protests are counterproductive; they are not helping the process go any faster if anything they are slowing the process down by putting so many at risk.

Although there is no official date set for the reopening of the state of California, Newsom continues to stand by the idea that it is still too soon to lift the stay at home order.