Should New York City face a “very grim” situation, the government has the right to “establish curfews, quarantine wide areas, close businesses, restrict public assemblies and, under certain circumstances, suspend local ordinances,” the New York Times explains in a feature this morning about the legal rulebook that governs potentially apocalyptic times. It’s terrifying in theory, but also very boring because it’s written by lawyers. The “New York State Public Health Legal Manual,” a/k/a The Oh My God We’re All Goin’ to Die book, “provides a catalog of potential terrorism nightmares, like smallpox, anthrax or botulism episodes.” But don’t worry, they have a plan.
The rules oscillate between chaos and order, using dry language and “We’re in charge here”-style optimism to describe situations where people would likely be screaming in the streets. Basically, you can loot someone’s house, but expect to face the consequences after things get sorted out with the ravenous disease because “violations of individual property rights, if actionable, would generally be sorted out after the need for such actions has ended.” That sort of thing.
And it provides chilling instructions on how to proceed with cases in the midst of outbreaks of contagious disease. The stockpiled gloves and respirators “already available at many courthouses,” it says, may be necessary.
But the image of an infected New Yorker surrounded by a masked judge, lawyers, and court officers was a miserable one even for this gruesome guide. “The wearing of respirators by the multiple participants in a courtroom setting, would no doubt be disruptive,” the manual notes.
Download the whole manual here, share it with your family and decide now which Dean and Deluca you’re going to pillage first.