U.S. Sen. Mike Braun predicted Wednesday that history will be unkind to governors who ordered statewide shutdowns of commercial activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When we debrief this, one size fits all was a bad way to do it. That happens often when you've got bureaucrats and folks who don't think more out of the box. I'm just glad we're getting at the point where it looks like we're transitioning to where the economies are reopening,” Braun, R-Ind., said during a conference call with Indiana news media.
He said sweeping restrictions on public activities and gatherings in March and April were “a flawed approach from the get-go.”
Every county “probably should have had an approach tailored to what the experts said needed to be done, and that was to make sure you respect the disease, don't give it any leeway, and we could have done two things at once,” Braun said about allowing businesses to remain open while taking measures to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
In many states, including Indiana, governors allowed only those merchants deemed essential – such as financial institutions and sellers of food, beverages, fuel and medical products – to stay in operation, and then with limits on capacity. Nonessential businesses tended to be restaurants, bars, movie theaters and personal care services such as hair salons and tattoo parlors.
“That idea of essential and nonessential was kind of a bad way to look at it in the first place,” Braun said. “It should have been which businesses can pay attention to the main guideline of 6 feet of distancing (between people), don't put any vulnerable individuals in peril, hygiene.”
States “that have been too straightjacketed will find out that they made the wrong decision once they can look at it down the road,” Braun said. He mentioned New York, Michigan and Kentucky – all states with Democratic governors.
Indiana at first “erred on the side of take the disease seriously,” Braun said. He said that “probably at the right time,” Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb “was focusing on I think what's most important if you want to avoid real economic carnage” by relaxing restrictions on commerce in stages beginning May 4.
“I think in general Indiana has done a good job,” Braun said.