Texas Admitted It Can't Enforce Its COVID-19 Lockdown. More States Should Do The Same.

The sooner everyone else recognizes those limits, the sooner we can shift to policies that balance public health and economic freedom.


The extent and severity of the COVID-19 economic shutdowns vary from place to place, but the one thing almost all of them have in common is that they're not really enforceable.

We may have reached the point where most people are realizing that.

Case in point: The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has decided to drop 200 enforcement investigations into barbers and cosmetologists who returned to work in recent weeks, The Dallas Morning News reports. The department is also dropping 180 cases that had not moved past the complaint stage—so stop tattling on your neighborhood salons, Texans—which seems like a clear admission that enforcing the shutdown is simply untenable.

The turning point, in Texas at least, probably came a few weeks ago when a Dallas salon owner, Shelley Luther, was sentenced to seven days in jail for reopening her business on April 24. The outrage over Luther's arrest and sentencing eventually convinced Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, to remove jail time as a punishment for people who violated the state's stay-at-home order.

The licensing department has now gone a step farther, saying it will allow "the reopening of cosmetology and barbering establishments retroactively to April 2," wiping out any violations from the past six weeks.

In Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court last week struck down a statewide stay-at-home order, counties are lifting their own lockdown orders due to "mounting confusion" over their legality. But the bigger question, again, might be their enforcability. I've seen a lot of coverage of Wisconsinites heading to bars in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling; I haven't seen much evidence that people are getting arrested for violating local shutdown orders.

And in Washington, more than 25,000 complaints about alleged lockdown violations were filed across the state, but as of May 8 the state had revoked exactly one business license.

As the days go on, expect to see more anecdotal evidence like this:

The government's role in all of this has always been more limited than either the bureaucrats drafting stay-at-home orders imagine or the protesters shouting about tyranny fear. Since forcibly quarantining 330 million people was never really possible, the lockdowns that have wrecked the economy and slowed the spread of COVID-19 over the past two months were ultimately based on voluntary compliance.

Don't get me wrong: There's been plenty of heavy-handed enforcement—in New York, in California, in Wisconsin, and in plenty of other places. But it's been ineffectual and perhaps even counterproductive, given that cops who get close enough to issue a citation or make an arrest are hardly practicing social distancing. (Imagine what a public health disaster it might be if they were somehow capable of detaining or fining everyone who broke quarantine.) It certainly isn't the reason people have been practicing social distancing. Research from FiveThirtyEight has shown pretty conclusively that most state-level stay-at-home orders came days or even weeks after most Americans were already staying home.

That remains true in places where governments are fighting to maintain lockdowns as compliance frays—like in Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Wolf has threatened businesses with the loss of their licenses if they go along with county-level reopening plans that move faster than his state-issued directives. And it remains true in places where lockdowns have already been lifted: In Georgia, restaurant reservations are still 90 percent lower than they were at this same time last year, according to data from OpenTable, even though Gov. Brian Kemp has lifted the lockdown.

The biggest benefit that comes from lifting stay-at-home orders is an end to the charade that such lockdowns can be enforced. Kemp didn't "reopen" Georgia. All he did was give people consumers and businesses permission to choose their own acceptable levels of risk—something they're doing anyway in every state.

Governments at all levels should continue to provide accurate information about what's relatively safe (like going to the beach or drinking outside) and what isn't (like getting together in big groups or using public transportation). But enforcement should be reserved for where it can actually work. An official order closing stadiums and the like seems reasonable. Jailing salon owners does not.

NEXT: Public Health Measures Enforced by Violence Aren’t as Healthy as Governments Pretend

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  1. Governments at all levels should continue to provide accurate information about what's relatively safe (like going to the beach or drinking outside) and what isn't (getting together in big groups, using public transportation). But enforcement should be reserved for where it can actually work. An official order closing stadiums and the like seems reasonable. Jailing salon owners does not.

    So people's right to free assembly can be suspended forever now. Not just for a week or two in an emergency but for as long as the government decides that it isn't safe for this to occur.

    Fuck you Boehm. Seriously, go fuck yourself you miserable, ignorant, cowardly, authoritarian fuck.

    1. That's pro china, miserable, ignorant, cowardly, authoritarian fuck. To you sir.

    2. "An official order closing stadiums and the like seems reasonable."

      Small tariffs bad! Shut down entire business good!

      1. Only the ends matter.

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    3. no kidding where enforcement actually works like in your ass. get lost creep who would ever want to be in a crowd with you anyway

    4. John, I was 'Ok' with limited, temporary and time-bound restrictions. It made sense, given how little we actually knew about the Wuhan coronavirus. Toward the end of April, my thinking changed on this. Mostly because of Phailing Phil Murphy, Governor of the People's Republic of NJ, and his Health Commissar, Judith M. Persichilli incompetent performance. And the fact that we knew more about transmission, and mitigation.

      From my perspective, they are both to blame for the thousands of deaths in nursing homes. Their policies directly contributed to the problem. How? They forced nursing homes to take patients infected with WuFlu. The deaths of our nursing home patients are on their heads. In a just world, they will be held personally accountable by a higher power; stroke for stroke, lash for lash, life for life. They truly deserve to reap what they have sown.

      Now in the People's Republic, we cannot assemble. We cannot attend synagogue. We cannot attend church. We cannot petition for a redress of grievance. OTOH, we can buy booze, weed, and go to the beach or a state park.

      I have nothing but contempt for our elected leaders in the People's Republic. They are utterly contemptible.

      1. I am pretty much exactly with you. I was okay with it too because I thought it would be temporary and I thought he virus was much worse than it has actually turned out to be. But, we are now at the end of May. This crap has to stop.

        1. ""I was okay with it too because I thought it would be temporary""

          I wonder how many people throughout history said the same thing.

          1. Too many, TrickyVic...too many.

      2. According to the data at there are 3196 counties in the United States.

        Of those, 1541 (48%) have zero reported COVID deaths. I happen to live in one of these counties.

        A total of 1970 (61%) have zero or one reported COVID death.

        A total of 2458 (77%) have 5 or fewer reported COVID deaths.

        A total of 3075 (96%) have fewer than 100 reported COVID deaths.

        These 10 counties alone

        Essex County NJ
        Suffolk County NY
        Los Angeles County CA
        Nassau County NY
        Wayne County MI
        New York County NY
        Cook County IL
        Bronx County NY
        Queens County NY
        Kings County NY

        account for 30879 (35%) of all COVID deaths in the US.
        We've shutdown the entire US, basically for the "benefit" of NYC (and across-the-bridge-Jersey and Long Island and bedroom communities in Connecticut), Detroit, Chicago, LA, New Orleans, and Miami.

        P.S. Some 5400 or so COVID deaths in NY State are being attributed to Gov. Cuomos orders that mandated nursing homes (you know, the places filled with the people seemingly most vulnerable to respiratory ailments, like COVID) accept active COVID cases (to keep them out of the hospitals??). This move is widely believed to have lit the proverbial match in nursing homes in NY State and ultimately killing thousands of the very same people we were all sheltering-in-place to avoid infected.

  2. I swear to God I'm going to pistol whip the next person who says, " social-distancing."

    1. Hey Farva what's the name of that thing where you have to do all that goofy shit like standing 6 feet apart?

    2. “Social distancing”

    3. Oh no! Not before the one who says "new normal" has been properly instructed on the inner workings of a wood chipper.

    4. Add "We're all in this together" to that....

    5. Or "new normal"

  3. "the sooner we can shift to policies that balance public health"

    Fuck off slaver.

    1. Violations of your fundamental rights are not something that has to be narrowly tailored to some compelling government interest. Nope, your rights are just another interest to be balanced with things like "public health".

      This is what Boehm actually believes. And he thinks that is the pro freedom "libertarian" position. Screw being a libertarian. Anyone with any sense should be able to see this is bullshit. Fuck off is right.

      1. Bookends quite nicely with the "Libertarian Case for Mask Wearing" this site shat out a couple of weeks ago.

          1. You commented on that link Overt and in a quite critical way of reason. Don't you remember that?

              1. I actually did do a search and that one came up...and...I honestly thought "This cannot be the article they are talking about."

                The day that ENB in any way claims to make the libertarian case for anything is the day that I stop drinking.

                But...I do admit, she tried pretty hard to bring first principles to bare. But she ruined it by being so focused on cherry picking the worst actions of people and ascribing them to Rush Limbaugh or some other righty that obviously hides beneath her bed. So...I'm safe from sobriety, but I'll sub in a Truly for a beer tonight to give her credit for trying.

                1. Sure Gray_Jay.

            1. We comment on lots of their articles here. I certainly can't keep them straight, nor do I usually care enough to try and use their search function.

              Overt is probably the same way.

              1. Hi Overt

                1. LOL.

                  We are all Tulpa. Or Mary.

                  1. Ok Overt.

              2. If you dont care, dont ask for citations. I never understood that motive. If you cant take 3 seconds to search, why would someone think youd spend 30s on the link given?

                1. True Jesse, and I usually don't ask for cites here. Nor do I have much patience for the "Cite? Cite!" method that often passes for discussion other places.

                  Just making a comment on not being able to remember which thread you last posted in when. It's really funny at other message boards, where someone sometimes bumps a long ago thread, you start reading it, think of a response, and get down to your own several year old post in the thread.

                  1. Sure Overt.

      2. "Nope, your rights are just another interest to be balanced with things like “public health”."

        Reason was once the BATSHIT INSANE site where you could say, "They are crazy, but at least they are principled". Any drug for anybody who wants it. All taxation is theft. No to Any Surveillance. They were one of the few magazines fighting against the wars when even Post 9/11 Dems were getting in line.

        The sad thing is that even as I have come around to be more Libertarian over the past decade (I probably started closer to John's ideology today), Reason has crept off the edge into this mushy liberal middle.

        The reason the US keeps moving left and more authoritarian is that there are a thousand batshit crazy leftists continuously arguing in leftist publications for Universal Healthcare and other socialist nonsense. Perhaps the authors think that arguing from within the shifting Overton Window will keep then relevant, but it really doesn't.

        1. ^This. This is why I fell in love with Reason 30 or so years ago. This is why only the comments section keeps me checking in.

        2. You know Overt, I tried to address the restrictions on my relifgious free exercise rights the old fashioned way. I wrote to my state assemblyman and state senator. I asked that they act to restore our free exercise rights.

          The response was deafening. The assemblymen never bothered to respond. My state senator? This is pathetic. His flunkie staffer wrote back...we'll address religious rights sometime during the summer? I was flabbergasted. My conclusion? Religious life in the People's Republic of NJ will not be the same for a long time to come.

          Inside every progressive is a totalitarian yearning to break free.

          1. We are incapable of doing anything in moderation. Shutting down big social events for a few weeks while we figured out what this virus was and we made sure it didn't spread so fast it overwhelmed the hospitals made sense and was I think constitutional. Since we can't do anything in moderation anymore and every power once used becomes permanent, here we are months later and the government is still severely restricting people's fundamental rights with no end in sight and no evidence it is even doing what it is supposed to do.

            You don't have to be a strict "taxation is theft" anarcho libertarian to see that that is wrong. Yet, reason can't manage to do it.

            1. What do you suppose is their motivation? Just to kill freedom for shits and giggles? We still have by far the highest number of cases and deaths in the world. My god, do you do anything but whine?

              1. Tony, the motivation might have started as trying to save lives. Now it is about control.

  4. From Twitter:

    CNN's first amendment rights to freedom of the press are sacred.
    Your first amendment rights to assemble are optional.

    1. If your assembly is a petri dish of infection, can it really be called peaceable?

  5. Meanwhile in California...
    Newsome already crying about a 3ed wave of infections while threatening to cut off power and water to those that dont comply.

    1. he is always crying. mom didnt nurse him long enough ( or ever)

    2. He's also threatening to fire first responders if his state isn't bailed out.

      Because First Responders are the only "non necessity" in the state budget. Not the millions they just started spending to help illegals and all...

  6. Did anybody happen to notice that in Wisconsin the shutdown was lifted by the Court, but, within 24 hours the County Health Departments stepped in and put them right back under shutdown.

    He mentioned Pennsylvania, but, what wasn't mentioned is that licenses are considered a "privilege", so if a license is pulled, even if a Court reopens Pennsylvania that license stays pulled or can be pulled at a whim.

    1. It's been a bit more of a mixed bag in Wisconsin than that.

      Some counties and/or cities have doubled down on local lockdowns, others have lifted the local lockdowns. A couple of county execs even noted that any county stay at home orders would have the same legal issues that the state order had.

  7. Fascist Judge Whathisname hardest hit.

    What am I saying? He'll probably be re-elected for the rest of his life.

  8. "so stop tattling on your neighborhood salons, Texans"

    I suspect those mean-spirited complaints come exclusively from CA refugees who fled oppressive state regulations and taxes in order to vote in oppressive state regulations and taxes .

    1. "I suspect those mean-spirited complaints come exclusively from CA refugees who fled oppressive state regulations and taxes in order to vote in oppressive state regulations and taxes ."

      Or Illinois, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey: all are license plates I see regularly around here. Feel free to fuck off back to your home state if you don't like the way we do things here. 'Course, there are few jobs where you came from, and plenty here. Wonder why?

      1. Maryland is still working bigly and we thank all the other 48 states for their generous tax donations (excluded Virginia cause they get the even more graft).

      2. Sure Overt.

  9. There must be blood

  10. >>Governments at all levels should continue to provide accurate information


    1. How are you expected to continue something that never started in the first place?

      1. rumor has it George Washington might have told the truth a couple times

        1. Lies and propaganda.

        2. He was known for clear cutting the nation’s vast cherry tree forests.

  11. also long live Ken Osmond. Eddie Haskell was a role model.

  12. "the lockdowns that have wrecked the economy and slowed the spread of COVID-19 over the past two months were ultimately based on voluntary compliance."

    Yea no. By that definition everything is voluntary. Complying under threat of violence ≠ voluntary.

  13. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Not the precious immigrants!!!!!! This happening to shithole American citizens in shithole America is one thing, but not the precious, precious immigrants!!!!!!!!!!!

    The undocumented restaurant workers who fed us are being forgotten. This is their struggle

    1. Just...barf. Not subjecting myself to that garbage.

      1. Brown people don't have rights!

        --The founding fathers

  14. Somebody looked behind the curtain

  15. Governments at all levels should continue to provide accurate information about what's relatively safe (like going to the beach or drinking outside) and what isn't (like getting together in big groups or using public transportation).

    They can't even provide consistent information, let alone accurate.

    1. The author is clearly unfamiliar with George Carlin's first rule..

  16. Maybe Texas needs a new government.

    1. Do the trains run on time?

      1. In NYC, commuter trains run on a reduced schedule, to ensure they remain crowded and the riders are still inhaling what other riders just exhaled. But gathering in groups is still too dangerous, otherwise...

  17. Debating the value of the initiation of violence, threats thereof, in a specific case, e.g., the Lockdown, while accepting the political paradigm as such, is a big mistake. Even if the result is beneficial in a given case, it cannot be used to justify the worldwide coercive political monopoly presently destroying humanity, sacrificing rights to socialism, authoritarianism.
    The choice is not obey or die, it's disobey or live enslaved. Most choose to obey, living a life not worth living. Will they wake up and grow up politically? Will they get up, stand up, for their rights?

  18. "...the lockdowns that have wrecked the economy and slowed the spread of COVID-19 over the past two months were ultimately based on voluntary compliance."

    Not really voluntary when the far left democrats and media bootlickers attempt to frighten the populace with lies about a virus that will kill few relative to the number of deaths that normally occur anyway. They made every attempt to make sure their citizens were compliant, now they make empty threats. You will notice it's all democrats making those threats. Remember that in November.

  19. Meanwhile in Illinois.
    "Under Gov. Pritzker's new emergency rules filed Friday, any Illinois business owner who violates his stay-at-home order could face up to a year in prison."
    "Several businesses across Central Illinois have already ignored the Governor's orders, such as JB's Hideout who hosted an "anti-corona party" Friday evening.
    Earlier this week, Pritzker stated that local and state law enforcement can and will take action."

  20. The Governors of the three western states should be kicked out of office for breach of their constituents’ Constitutional rights.

  21. I like it when cousinfucking morons who spent their entire adulthood whining that shop owners can't kick out customers for being black now all of a sudden demand their own place at a lunch counter even if the owner doesn't want their unmasked idiotic faces infecting their staff and other customers.

    1. "unmasked idiotic faces infecting their staff and other customers."
      A sub-micron sized particle filtering mask is probably what you intended to reference. Otherwise, the idiotic face is in your mirror.

        1. If you smear some zinc on it they all work.

      1. Experiments with mere surgical masks have shown a very significant reduction in transmissions.

        Shooting people who willfully disbelieve in science might work too.

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