Attorney General William Barr criticized measures taken to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, calling them “draconian” and recommending they should be reevaluated by May.
In an interview with Fox News, Barr said the United States should ascertain whether measures being “adopted are fully justified, and there are not alternative ways of protecting people” as the pandemic tears its way through the country.
“I think, you know, when this — when this period of time is — at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed, but allow them to use other ways – social distancing and other means – to protect themselves,” he said.
“I’m very concerned about the slippery slope in terms of continuing encroachments on personal liberty,” he said of methods being used to track the spread of the virus. “I do think during the emergency, appropriate, reasonable steps are fine.”
Of President Donald Trump’s decision to extend social distancing guidelines until April 30, Barr said, “I think the president has made the right decisions for the right reasons.”
Current guidelines recommend that people not gather in groups of 10 or more, go to restaurants or bars, and to spend as much time indoors as possible.
Barr’s comments come as the Trump administration makes plans to reopen the economy incrementally, staring in small towns and cities not ravaged by the virus, while “hot spots” like New York and Detroit remain shuttered.
“We’re looking at the concept where we open sections of the country and we’re also looking at the concept where you open up everything,” President Donald Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday night.
Nearly 15,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus since the first death was reported on February 29.