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Yes, we know social distancing is important, but some things are being taken too far

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Allyson Felix checks her time after running the women’s 400-meter dash final at the U.S. Championships athletics meet, Saturday, July 27, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. Felix told ESPN she has been forced to train on city streets or public spaces that aren’t shut down after being kicked off a track in California.

Charlie Neibergall, AP

All right, that does it. The Covid Cops are going too far.

Will everybody please take a deep breath?

Yes, we’re on lockdown; yes, we’ve been told to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We get it. We’re doing it. We are all in, literally.

But some measures are too much.

A sign was posted at a local high school track this week that said it was closed due to COVID-19 and that entering the track would be considered trespassing. The track seldom attracts more than a handful of people.

The sign recommended going to a local park instead. Guess what happened? Yeah, that park was packed with people running and playing tennis and soccer. Now they’ve created a more dangerous situation by herding everyone to one place.

A cop went Bobby Knight on a few snowboarders at Brighton Ski Resort, which of course is closed because of the virus. The cop, cursing and shouting at one of the snowboarders, said he was trespassing (the boarders said they were snowboarding on private property). When the snowboarder, who was wearing a mask, asked the cop to back away to maintain the recommended 6-foot distance, the cop responded, “I do not need to give you a social distance, do you understand that? You invited this on yourself and you’re asking for it.”

Unified Police say they are investigating the incident, which was captured on video and posted on Instagram.

This is what is happening all over the country, thanks to overzealous enforcement of social distancing. Allyson Felix, the Olympic champion sprinter, was kicked off a track in California. Surfers and paddle boarders have been yanked out of the water and beaches closed in the same state, with police writing citations for beachgoers.

Three men in Massachusetts were arrested for crossing state lines and golfing in Rhode Island. They face a possible jail sentence. A passenger was pulled off a bus in Philadelphia for not wearing a mask. A father in Colorado was handcuffed in front of his daughter for playing T-ball with her in an empty park. More than a dozen states have banned golf, even though states that allow it have created perfectly safe ways to play the game.

Matt Whitlock, a former member of the Sen. Orrin Hatch’s staff in Washington, tweeted, “The police have come to remove a single jogger from the open empty soccer field across the street from us in Arlington … pretty ridiculous when our Virginia social distancing guidance allows for outdoor exercise.” Meanwhile, Omaha simply closed its 250 parks altogether. Other cities and states have done the same thing. In some cities, tennis nets and basketball hoops have been removed.

How are these sports not conducive to social distancing? There is nobody who wants more social distancing than a surfer or a snowboarder. Is it 6 feet apart, or 6,000 feet apart?

What safer way to spend the pandemic than snowboarding, golfing, surfing, running around a quarter-mile track or relaxing on a spacious, windy beach?

First things first, we have been instructed to maintain social distance, but we have also been told to go outside and get some sunshine, fresh air and exercise for our physical and mental health, which makes us more resistant to illness.

Here’s what the CDC says on its website: “Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. In many areas, people can visit parks, trails and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air and vitamin D, stay active, and safely connect with others.”

In other words, golf, hiking and running around in open areas is part of the plan. People have to do something. Sacramento’s KKTV reported that there’s a man who is making picnic tables for squirrels to pass the pandemic. Maybe he should try to get out more.

We’ve got a lot of caged-up people who need freedom to move around, which is possible without violating the social distancing mandate. The U.N. says there is a “horrifying surge” in domestic violence because of the lockdown. Mental health problems have soared during the pandemic.

Aside from obvious issues of a free society, eager beaver officials are going beyond what is necessary … beyond CDC recommendations, beyond common sense. It’s not just overreaching, it’s harmful.

On April 13, the conservative National Review published an opinion piece written by David Harsanyi titled, “Coronavirus authoritarianism is getting out of hand.

After acknowledging the importance of social distancing, Harsanyi wrote, “Free people act out of self-preservation, but they shouldn’t be coerced to act through the authoritarian whims of the state. Yet this is exactly what’s happening. There has been lots of pounding of keyboards over the power grabs of authoritarians in Central and Eastern Europe. Rightly so. Yet right here, politicians act as if a health crisis gives them license to lord over the most private activities of America people in ways that are wholly inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

“It makes sense for places like Washington, D.C. Virginia, and Maryland to ban large, avoidable gatherings. But it is an astonishing abuse of power to issue stay-at-home orders, enforced by criminal law, empowering police to harass and fine individuals for nothing more than taking a walk … 

“There is no reason to close ‘public’ parks, where Americans can maintain social distance while getting some air or space for their mental and physical well-being — or maybe see a grandchild from afar. In California, surfers, who stay far away from each other, are banned from going in the water. Elsewhere, hikers are banned from roaming the millions of acres in national parks. Millions of lower-income and urban-dwelling Americans don’t have the luxury of backyards, and there is absolutely no reason to inhibit their movement, either.”

Amen.