Attorney General Bill Barr said Wednesday that the coronavirus crisis presents an opportunity to tighten the country’s borders, suggesting that Americans will welcome “more protective measures.”
“As horrible as this is and as tragic as it is, there are a couple of good things that can flow from this experience,” Barr said in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
“I’ve felt for a long time ― as much as people talk about global warming ― that the real threat to human beings is microbes and being able to control disease, and that starts with controlling your border,” he said. “So I think people will be attuned to more protective measures.”
Barr did not elaborate on what sort of stricter policies he was referring to. President Donald Trump, who has spent his presidency attempting to severely limit immigration across the U.S. border with Mexico, has repeatedly touted his decision to halt flights from China early on in the coronavirus crisis. The virus is believed to have originated there.
The attorney general also echoed Trump’s suggestions that the government-imposed lockdowns across much of the country should be lifted at the end of the month to prevent further strain on the economy. It remains unclear how well the virus will be contained by May, but state leaders and public health officials ― including White House public health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci ― have cautioned Americans against believing life will go back to normal.
At the end of the month, Barr said, the federal government will be “very careful to make sure that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified.”
“When this period of time, at the end of April, expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have, and not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed, but allow them to use other ways — social distancing and other means — to protect themselves,” he said.
Restaurants may “have to change their protocols,” Barr said, and personal protective equipment will have to be “more broadly available.”
“I’m not suggesting we stop social distancing overnight,” Barr said. “There may come a time when we have to worry less about that. I don’t know when that will be.”
Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available ― roughly a year from now ― there is a possibility that waves of infections will reemerge.
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