Eric Garcetti, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, said Wednesday it’s “time to cancel everything” as he banned all forms of travel and ordered residents to stay in their homes.
“All travel, including, without limitation, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit is prohibited,” read his office’s latest dictate.
Garcetti also doubled down on his ban on indoor worship services, a move backed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
On Thursday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court asked a lower court to reconsider whether California’s draconian restrictions on religious gatherings are constitutional. The request follows a late November ruling from the high court that stated New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, cannot implement harsh restrictions singling out places of worship.
“Members of this court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area,” wrote Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who is President Donald Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee. “But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch, another Trump nominee, wrote: “It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutters churches, synagogues.”
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices, who support the restrictions on faith-based gatherings.
People living in Los Angeles were notified Wednesday of Garcetti’s latest unilateral decision via email and text message.
The mayor has ordered all businesses — except those with exemptions, like grocery stores, media outlets, gas stations, and restaurants that offer take-out, drive-through, and delivery options — to close. All public and private gatherings “of any number of people from more than one household are prohibited,” Garcetti said, noting outdoor gatherings are permitted if they are religious events or protests.
Residents may lawfully leave their houses only to engage in what the Los Angeles government has deemed “essential,” such as for doctor visits or to collect groceries.
Garcetti has asked the Los Angeles Police Department and the city’s attorney to “vigorously enforce” his edicts.
“My message couldn’t be simpler,” he declared Wednesday. “It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.”