Op-Ed: Protesting Quarantine

by Lily Bertles '22

The world is currently on lockdown, and for good reason. Medical experts and politicians urge people to stay home to contain the spread of Covid-19. No one has ever experienced a pandemic like this and it can feel quite surreal. We all want life to return back to normal. To do so, we must practice social distancing. This means you may only leave your home if absolutely necessary. If you have to go out, you must wear a face mask and stay at least six feet apart from other people. While this may seem reasonable enough, there have been many recent protests against quarantine and social distance regulations. 

Many people are becoming impatient and unwilling to adhere to the stay at home order. Protests have been breaking out all over the United States. Even as the death polls rise, people are continuously fighting to reopen the country. Many of these movements incorporate hate groups such as white supremasists and neo-Nazis. Last week, hundreds of armed protestors stormed Lansing, Michigian. They were displeased with Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer who wanted to extend the stay at home order. Many of the protesters were seen with confederate flags, swastikas, and assault rifles. 

Similar protests have been occurring in other state capitols. The majority of these protests incorporate right-wing ideologies. Republcan President Donald Trump has openly called these protesters “very good people… they just want their lives back.” The consensus seems to be that these protesters want life to return to normalcy. One of their main issues has to do with all the people who have lost their jobs. Most protesters believe that the lockdown is unjustly taking away people’s jobs and closing down businesses. This all really boils down to the protesters’s belief that the government is taking away their freedom. Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, also pointed out that it is their first amendment right to protest. While technically these people do have the right protest, while doing so they are furthering the spread of the coronavirus. The purpose of the stay at home order is to minimize the spread of the virus and to keep people safe, not to take away our freedoms. 

In a recent survey sent to Upper School Faculty and Students, respondants were asked whether or not they believed that the anti-quarantine protests were reasonable or not. 72.3% of survey participants answered no and 27.7% answered yes to the question. They were then asked to explain why they answered the way they did. Most people who answered ‘no’ did so because they believe quarantine is important to prevent the spread of the virus. One survey taker wrote, “I think that protesting during a pandemic is counterproductive. Many of the protesters are not understanding the intentions of the government with the stay at home orders. Many of them are equating the lockdowns to concentration camps and the Holocaust, which is horrible and inappropriate. I think many of the people protesting dislike the stay at home orders because they feel as though the government is unfairly infringing on their civil rights. However, I think these restrictions are meant to keep the general public safe, and protesters, particularly white ones, are comparing this to oppression because this is the only time their rights have been limited even if it is for the common good.” 

On the contrary most survey takers who answered ‘yes’ are concerned about people losing their jobs or believe that quarantine is “fake news,” as one survey respondent wrote. Another survey respondent stated, “the protests are reasonable because 30 million people are currently unemployed in the United States. Also quality of life matters and during quarantine many peoples' quality of life is very bad.”

No matter what you believe, it is important to follow the lockdown guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone. Protesting the lockdown endangers many by continuing the spread of the coronavirus. The sole purpose of quarantine is to prevent the spread of the virus and to save as many lives as possible. While you may not think the virus will affect you, it is bound to affect a loved one or someone you know. The best way to stop that from happening is to social distance and remain in quarantine until advised otherwise.