Local calls for a protest against the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’


On the morning of April 20, Dylan Neff posted a SLO County - Protest the Lockdown event slated for April 26 on the Paso Robles Now community Facebook group. It was taken down before noon.

Neff, a Paso resident, told New Times that he created an event, time, and place for a peaceful protest of the lockdown, “which is now not fitting logic.” He said there isn’t an event organizer. It’s just information, so anyone who is interested can participate.
PROTESTING SHELTER-AT-HOME Local Paso Robles resident Dylan Neff calls for a protest against SLO County’s shelter-at-home ordinance. - SCREENSHOT TAKEN FROM FACEBOOK
  • PROTESTING SHELTER-AT-HOME Local Paso Robles resident Dylan Neff calls for a protest against SLO County’s shelter-at-home ordinance.

“I am interested in this protest because the lockdown is destroying more lives than it is saving. Everyone thinks they will die if they catch it. There is a fear campaign running, which has got people scared to do anything,” Neff said. “Over 238,000 people in this county, why are we in lockdown?”

The local shelter-at-home order went into effect March 19 and calls for a review every 14 days to evaluate whether it should be modified, rescinded, or continued. April 17 marked the second 14-day review and county officials continued the order until May 16—for further review.

According to readyslo.org, the intent of the order is to slow the spread of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County by ensuring that the maximum number of people self-quarantine in their places of residence to the maximum extent possible, while enabling essential services to continue. The order aligns with state guidance and similar orders for counties across California, the website states.

San Luis Obispo County, with a population of 283,111—according to the recent U.S. Census Bureau data—has so far reported 132 cases of coronavirus. Santa Barbara County with a population of 446,499 has a total of 394 confirmed cases, and Monterey County, with a population of 434,061 has 141 confirmed cases.

SLO County spokesperson Michelle Shoresman said the county understands how people are feeling as everyone heads into the fifth week of sheltering at home. However, she said, the county has seen the local curve flatten because of the efforts made by the community as a whole.

“Our residents have done an amazing job, and this has made it possible for our county to start considering a phased re-opening and what that might look like. We believe that the group planning to protest will do the right thing, and will protest peacefully, observing physical distancing requirements to protect each other and other members of the community,” Shoresman said. “As we begin reopening over the next few weeks, the measures we take will be based on science and will be put in place to protect our residents.”

San Luis Obispo city Public Information Officer James Blattler echoed the county’s sentiments of prioritizing the health and safety of the community, acknowledging the difficulties of the pandemic and shelter-at-home order, as well as applauding the community for its collective efforts thus far.

Blattler said law enforcement can issue citations for those violating the order, however, the city’s hope is that the community continues following the order and reducing the spread of disease. According to the order, he said, anytime an individual leaves their home they “must at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person.”

“The San Luis Obispo Police Department sympathizes with our community members that are unable to work and/or have businesses that have been significantly impacted by the shelter-in-place order that was put in place specifically to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection and will not get involved unless those involved in the protest engage in prohibitive and dangerous behavior that constitutes an imminent threat to public health or safety,” Blattler said.

He said the city wants the greater community to know leaders from all sectors of the region are working collectively and diligently on a phased re-opening and economic recovery plan for SLO County.

“We all want to return to normal as soon as possible, and will make future decisions based on the health and safety of our community,” Blattler said.

Even though Neff’s protest event post was taken down, it’s still planned for April 26 from 8 a.m. to noon. at the county Government Center.

“It is unfair that my post was taken down as anything that is free-thinking at the moment or anyone that wants to ask a real question is shunned and censored,” Neff said. “We also have the president on our side and many other experts and officials, that’s what gives us the confidence to do this.”

Last week, the Trump administration announced that state governors had the power to decide when to reopen their respective economies. However, soon after the announcement, Trump tweeted in support of protests against COVID-19 restrictive orders. ∆

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