Idahoans are languishing under a litany of restrictions imposed on them by Gov. Brad Little's stay-at-home order. Residents of Blaine County, however, face even greater government-imposed limits on their personal and business freedoms — above and beyond what is imposed by the statewide order.
For example, the county has declared that construction — both commercial and residential — as well as maintenance and landscaping are "nonessential" and therefore prohibited. Even though the governor’s statewide order specifically labels landscapers and housing construction as essential.
Beyond that, Blaine County forbids hotels and short-term rentals from doing business with anyone who is not a healthcare provider or otherwise deemed essential by the county.
Even travel is restricted. To legally enter or leave the county, one must be engaged in government business or in pursuit of some other activity officially regarded as essential.
Will the residents of Blaine County soon be freed of their veritable imprisonment? Sadly, the answer is no.
This past Saturday morning, the Blaine County Commission held a special meeting where it voted 2-1 to extend its restrictive mandates and prohibitions for yet another week. The 23,000 citizens of Blaine County are to remain under near house arrest until the end of Sunday, April 19, 2020.
Idaho's State Constitution guarantees, "All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety."
The protection of these inalienable rights is spat in the face by restrictions on movement and commerce. Liberty is not defended when individuals are prevented from traveling or doing business.
The inhabitants of Blaine County have inalienable rights — rights that are not subject to violation even by a 2-1 vote of the county commission. You may not live in that particular county, but the violation of residents' rights there represents a grave threat to the rest of us. If we don't defend their rights when they are under assault, we are allowing a precedent to be set that will endanger us all one day.
Do you know of another area in Idaho with more restrictive measures than the governor’s statewide order? Email us to let us know at [email protected].