Daniel Halliday
Apr 24 · Last update 14 days ago.

Should countries ban protesting during a pandemic?

In order to “flatten the curve” (minimise the rate of spread in a society) during the COVID-19 pandemic many societies have banned public gatherings, events and assemblies in order to ensure proper social distancing measures are in place. However in many countries people have begun protesting their government’s reaction to the virus, some demonstrating against the loss of civil liberties, some against what they see as damaging economic measures, while some question the reality of the virus itself. On one hand safety is a concern for governments, wanting to minimise the spread of the virus and the number of fatalities associated with it, on the other hand people are concerned about human rights; the rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of speech. Should countries ban protesting during a pandemic? Is it a reasonable measure to protect people from a pandemic? Or are people right to be concerned about their freedom?
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Yes – flattening the curve
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No – Human rights
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Yes – flattening the curve

Protest is a foundational right in many modern democracies, however most democracies also value life, and in the time of a global pandemic, protesters need to weigh up the human cost of further spread of the virus against their social grievances, and try to judge if something like this is truly necessary at a time like this. With this in mind many states have temporarily banned all social gatherings, including protests, in the name of social stability, and as a means to flatten the curve of the rate of viral spread - nothing should be more important in a pandemic. New York is one such state, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has spoken of alternatives to protesting, pointing out that protecting other people’s lives should come first, encouraging people to use other tools such as Twitter to get their voices heard and their point across in trying times like these.

fox6now.com/2020/05/04/putting-people-at-risk-nyc-mayor-police-commissioner-ban-protests-during-pandemic

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Daniel Halliday
May 12
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DH edited this paragraph
Protest is a foundational right in many modern democracies, however most democracies also value life, and in the time of a global pandemic, protesters need to weigh up the human cost of further spread of the virus against their social grievances, and try to judge if something like this is truly necessary at a time like this. With this in mind many states have temporarily banned all social gatherings, including protests, in the name of social stability, and as a means to flatten the curve of the rate of viral spread - nothing should be more important in a pandemic. New York is one such state, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has spoken of alternatives to protesting, pointing out that protecting other people’s lives should come first, encouraging people to use other tools such as Twitter to get their voices heard and their point across in trying times like these.

No – Human rights

The right to protest is internationally recognised as a human right and stems for numerous other rights, this is sign of freedom that even in times of crisis societies should be proud of. The protests we have seen in the US are even protected in the country’s constitution; the First Amendment directly restricts US Congress from denying citizens the right to peaceful assembly. People are suffering due to COVID-19 and not just from the virus, the US Federal Reserve predicts the unemployment rate will reach as high as 32%, huge proportions of society are losing jobs and the ability to support themselves and they are scared. Taking a look at Hong Kong recently it is clear that you cannot simply ban protests when people feel so desperate, it is not the way to govern people and not the way to solve demonstrations.

loc.gov/law/help/peaceful-assembly/us.php civilrights.findlaw.com/enforcing-your-civil-rights/is-there-a-right-to-peaceful-protest.html nypost.com/2020/03/31/federal-reserve-predicts-32-unemployment-rate-thanks-to-coronavirus reuters.com/article/us-china-health-hongkong-protests-insigh-idUSKBN20F0E3

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 25
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