Coronavirus and Civic Space in the United States

The coronavirus is a significant threat to public health; it does not need to be a significant threat to civic freedom.

A close up picture of the coronavirus (Photo: CDC/Unsplash)

Key Resources

Protecting the Freedom of Assembly and Public Health

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the United States has seen numerous protests, albeit at a relatively small scale. However, an adequate set of rules to protect both the freedom of peaceful assembly and public health have yet to be developed.

Anti-mask Laws, COVID-19, and the First Amendment

Face masks have become ubiquitous in US public life. The CDC now recommends Americans wear face masks to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Yet, at least 18 states and Washington DC have laws that could be used to penalize those who wear face coverings.

COVID-19 and Civic Freedom

All 50 states and the federal government have declared emergencies and issued a range of executive orders to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus is a serious public health threat, measures to address it should not become a serious threat to civil liberties.

International Resources: Coronavirus and Civic Space

This page presents key resources on how the coronavirus response is impacting civic space and the existing international law framework on upholding human rights during the crisis.

COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker

The ICNL-ECNL COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affects civic freedoms and human rights, focusing on emergency laws.