Can President Limit State Social Distance Restrictions?

President Trump says steps taken to cure for coronavirus are worse than the disease, hurting the economy and people

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President Trump wants the economy back up and running by Easter.  But can he act unilaterally to open businesses and disregard social distancing rules?

“The President can say what he’d like to have done, but the President does not have the power to make all his dreams come true, as it were,” said Dan Eaton, legal analyst and constitutional law expert. 

“The fact is under our Constitution, our states retain a great deal of police powers to decide what does and does not stay open,” said Eaton. “The President cannot unilaterally make those kinds of decisions.”

The President cannot unilaterally make those kinds of decisions.

Dan Eaton, Legal Analyst

Eaton said the President will have to have buy-in from the states to make major changes in restrictions.  

President Trump said he is working with a task force, looking at the data on the coronavirus, and will make a decision “based on the best interest of the country.”

The head of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency, Doctor Wilma Wooten, said “It is not the time to start back to business as usual.” She said San Diego needs to adhere to the orders put in place at the local level and by the Governor.

San Diego Unified School District Trustee Richard Barrera said, “If public health officials were telling tell us two or three weeks from now, we believe it’s safe for students to return to the classroom, we would open up our classrooms."

He said the decision is up to local school boards in consult with the state, the Governor, and public health officials. 

“I don’t see how it’s possibly up to the President.”

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