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Kayleigh McEnany blasts 'Orwellian' COVID-19 Thanksgiving restrictions

McEnany criticized Oregon's two-week 'freeze' limiting in-home gatherings

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday blasted some state coronavirus restrictions on Thanksgiving gatherings as "Orwellian," decrying threats of arrest from some state officials for those who gather for dinner in greater numbers than the state will permit.

Appearing on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," McEnany was asked by co-host Steve Doocy about "suggestions and guidelines" issued by some governors that limit the size of private gatherings because of spiking coronavirus cases as families prepare to celebrate the holidays.

"I think a lot of the guidelines you're seeing are Orwellian," McEnany said.

She pointed Doocy to CDC guidelines on wearing a mask and social distancing before arguing that Americans, as a free people, should be trusted to take care of themselves without threats from the government.

"The American people know how to protect their health. We've dealt with COVID for many months," she continued. "But it's Orwellian in a place like Oregon to say, 'If you gather in numbers more than six, we might come to your house and arrest you, and you get 30 days of jail time.' That's not the American way. We don't lose our freedom in this country. We make responsible health decisions as individuals."

Last week, Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown announced a two-week "freeze" to slow the spread of coronavirus. The freeze went into effect Wednesday, limiting the size of at-home, social, and worship gatherings. Additionally, in-door dining has been shut down at restaurants, workplaces that are able have been ordered to mandate work-from-home, and gyms, museums, zoos, and indoor recreation facilities have been closed.

A press statement from the governor noted that "all of the freeze measures are enforceable by law upon both individuals and businesses," but emphasized that the governor is "urging voluntary compliance."

"I expect local law enforcement to continue to use an education first approach, but Oregonians need to understand that these rules are enforceable under law. A large majority of Oregonians continue to do the right thing to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors," Brown said.

"However, when Oregonians don't take COVID-19 seriously, and don't take steps to reduce the spread of the disease, they put all of us at risk. We need all Oregonians to use common sense, make smart choices, and take seriously their individual responsibilities during a public health emergency."

Violations of the governor's executive order could result in citation, fine, or arrest, but state law enforcement has been instructed to take matters that far only as a last resort, KATU-TV reports.

Doocy asked a follow-up question, noting that "nobody likes to have anybody tell people what they can and cannot do inside their houses" but that the Trump administration deferred to state and local authorities to enact coronavirus restrictions.

"Ultimately, didn't the White House say, 'Do what you want to do?'" Doocy asked.

"Yeah, of course. It's up to every state to do what they want to do, but there are consequences for those states," McEnany replied, noting that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have fled the city over the past eight months during the pandemic.

"The American people are a freedom-loving people," she continued. "We can make good decisions. We can wash our hands, wear masks, socially distance. But we can also decide in our own personal domicile, our own home, whether we can have our family members present at any given time. That is the American way. That is freedom."

One last thing…
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