The COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to New Questions About Emergency Measures and the First Amendment

The pandemic caused by the pervasive spread of the virus known as COVID-19 has placed significant pressures on government officials to act quickly to try to save lives and to slow the spread of the virus. Many officials have responded with significant restrictions in the form of emergency stay-at-home orders, executive orders closing all but “essential” businesses, and bans on public gatherings — often of more than 10 people. Such measures have received pushback from church parishioners who want to worship together, business owners that want to re-open to avoid economic collapse, and persons who want to be able to assemble together either for communal, protesting, or other purposes.

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