Idaho cities adopt expanded restrictions on individual and business liberties

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Though Idahoans are already suffering under a strict statewide stay-at-home order that has shuttered thousands of businesses, some cities have tightened the thumbscrews even further. 

Among these are Ketchum, Bellevue, and Hailey. All three have imposed further prohibitions on businesses that are actually categorized as essential under Idaho’s statewide stay-at-home order. Restrictions on residential and commercial construction, landscaping, as well as a prohibition of offering short-term rentals to anyone other than health care workers or those performing essential government functions.

RELATED: North Idaho woman faces misdemeanor for yard sale in violation of stay-home order

Worse still, these cities have imposed restrictions on the fundamental freedom of travel, ordering people not to travel outside of Blaine County to obtain any goods or services that are available within the county. 

And even the most basic property rights are violated. Individuals who are not related are barred from gathering — even within their own homes! 

There may be a tiny glimmer of hope within all of this disturbing news, however. Sun Valley, another city that had implemented a similar litany of prohibitions, allowed its order to expire on Monday, April 13.

The mayor of Bellevue expressed his anger with Sun Valley’s mayor, saying, “I disagree completely with his decision” to allow a return to some degree of normalcy within the city’s borders. 

Back to bad news: It’s not just cities in Blaine County, unfortunately, that are infringing on essential freedoms. Victor, the largest city in Teton County, Idaho, has imposed strict quarantine requirements on visitors from all but a handful of counties. It has also banned short-term rentals for “non-essential purposes” or for anyone who doesn’t already live in the county.. 

Disquieting news is growing ever more common in Idaho as cities and counties — to say nothing of the state itself — seem to be working overtime to find new ways of violating the freedoms of individuals and businesses. 

We must not allow these assaults on our rights and freedoms to go unchallenged. We must identify and condemn these occurrences without fail. When the opportunity presents itself, we must take other steps to counter and reverse these violations. 

It may seem easier to ignore these outrages and hope they will just end on their own eventually, rather than take action. But the precedents set today will come back to haunt us time and time again. There will always be another disaster, another emergency, or another crisis. Those are not sufficient excuses to surrender our liberties. In truth, no such excuses exist. They never have, and they never will.