On this day, April 2nd, 2020, Malibu police arrested a man for paddle-boarding alone on the ocean because he was violating COVID social distancing rules. Again, this surfer was alone on the ocean. You could hardly say he wasn’t social distancing. But California Governor Gavin Newsom had issued a strict stay-at-home order, so the surfer was handcuffed and perp walked along the beach before being placed in a cage for processing.
This arrest is nearly a textbook case of everything libertarians have warned us about and should be memorialized for that reason. First, the law itself turned out to be stupid. In fact, Sweden — famous for refusing to panic during COVID and doing the least to stop its spread — ended up with the lowest excess death rate. If lockdowns made any sense at all Sweden should have had one of the worst outcomes. Instead, it was the US that had one of the worst outcomes. Second, it turned out that CA Governor Gavin Newsom wasn’t even obeying his own lockdown edict, but was in fact secretly partying with his crony friends, unmasked and without social distancing. One law for me, another for thee. He was of course never arrested. Third, it has subsequently been determined that exercise and sun are some of the best ways to avoid getting sick from COVID. So it was in fact the surfer who was doing his bit to fight COVID; it was the state that was potentially spreading it by arresting him and exposing him and themselves to contact. As they say, quite often the law is an ass, and especially so during a panic.
Similarly, a month later, also in California of course, the city of Los Angeles filled in a skateboard park with sand to stop skateboarders from violating the lockdown edict. To their eternal credit, the skateboarders dug out the park and went back to skateboarding. You have to admire how the skateboarding crowd deals with government Karens.
Libertarian comedian/songwriter subsequently wrote a song about the arrest.