The state of California has felt like a minimum-security prison for eight months.
In the name of fighting the pandemic and preventing our hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the politicians and public health experts have told us “non-essential” Americans where we could go, where we could eat and where and how we could gather with our friends, strangers or fellow worshippers.
They’ve slowly managed to outlaw any social activity and fun that brings ordinary people happiness.
And now, thanks to Mayor Eric Garcetti and something called the “L.A. County Public Health Temporary Targeted Safer at Home Health Order,” everyday life in Los Angeles has become even more miserable and less free.
Reacting to the rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Los Angeles, last week Garcetti laid down a 14-page list of “guidelines” that a dictator of a banana republic could envy.
Telling us we had to “hunker down,” he kept the city’s outdoor mask mandate in place and issued a strict new stay-in-your-basement order.
From now until almost Christmas, the mayor decreed, public and private gatherings of people from more than one household are prohibited.
Unless you are on your way to doing something essential, like going to work at a grocery store, gas station or health care facility, even walking is prohibited.
So is driving a car or riding a bike, motorcycle or scooter. So is traveling on a public bus. Violators can be fined or put in jail, or both.
Religious services are OK — outside only — and the homeless get exemptions, but not gyms.
By some miracle, golfing at one of the city’s 10 public courses is still permitted — if you follow the insane new rule.
If you want to play at a city course you have to cancel all existing reservations, re-book tee times and prove that your group includes only members of the same household.
Who wrote that guideline? Whoever it was, I guarantee he or she is no golfer.
Golf is the last activity that needs to be subjected to the rules of public health bureaucrats.
It’s outside. In the sun. Plus, it’s perfectly safe for social distancing.
Everyone has their own golf cart. You can leave the flag stick in so no one touches it. And they already make you wear a mask — while playing.
The public health people who write dumb guidelines like these supposedly follow the science, but they don’t even have any data to prove that restaurants are dangerous virus spreaders.
Do you think they have any data on the risks of playing golf? Of course they don’t.
They just issue their idiotic and arbitrary rules about indoor dining, schools and golfing because they’re bureaucrats who’ve been given the power to write them. We’re lucky they didn’t mandate that golfers prove they’ve had the vaccine before they teed off.
The good news, I guess, is that Los Angeles’ same-household rule applies only to city owned-and-operated golf courses.
If you want to play with your buddies, business clients or strangers, you can still go to a country club. Of course, you have to have a spare $100,000 to pay for a membership.
So, as usual, in their all-out war on the virus the politicians and their virus experts have again managed to screw the little guy — the average duffer who plays the public courses.
It’s just like when their unscientific rules put restaurants out of business. It’s not just the owner who gets hurt, it’s also dozens of wait staff, cooks and parking lot guys.
I realize COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are going up, but lockdowns, social distancing and masks don’t seem to be having much success here or anywhere else in the world.
I know a vaccine is coming.
But I’m beginning to think they could lock the whole country down for a year and three months after they let us out of our basements we’d be back in the same condition. Because no matter what we do, it’s a virus and it’s going to behave like one.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.”