But neither peaceful nor violent protests lend themselves to social distancing and hygiene. Chanting and marching and waving could have been choreographed to spread infectious disease. Most protesters are flouting rules that we were told were essential only five minutes ago. And who can blame them? Either way, any voluntary efforts by protesters to keep social distance are just as possible among people engaged in other activities, including commerce.

Protests are, in some respects, worse than other gatherings of people that remain illegal in New Jersey and other jurisdictions. That includes commercial gatherings, which are “nonessential” according to some bureaucrat’s view, but essential to each business owner’s and employee’s hope of avoiding poverty and long-term joblessness.

If mass protests and rioting in major cities do not lead to a resurgence in COVID cases, it would be more evidence that states can safely end lockdowns.