On Sunday, top White House doctor Anthony Fauci argued that if a significant surge from a COVID-19 variant arose in the United States, public restrictions might be reinstituted.

This led to Republican Senator Ted Cruz responding on Twitter, writing “Hell no. For petty tyrants like Fauci, they only have one tool in their toolbox: authoritarian restrictions. Enough is enough.”

Fauci made his comments during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” with host George Stephanopoulos.

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Fauci: ‘We have to be prepared to pivot and perhaps reinstitute some of those restrictions’

Stephanopoulos asked Fauci about the latest variant of COVID-19, called BA.2.

Fauci replied, “Well, as was said, it has this degree of transmission advantage over the original Omicron but not a multifold advantage, so it’s about 50 to 60 percent or so more transmissible, which means, ultimately, over time, it might take over as the dominant variant.”

“However, when you look at the cases they do not appear to be any more severe and they do not appear to evade immune responses, either from vaccines or prior infections,” Fauci continued. “So the bottom line is we likely will see an uptick in cases as we’ve seen in the European countries, particularly the U.K. where they’ve had the same situation as we’ve had now; they have the BA2, they have a relaxation of some of the restrictions such as indoor masking and there’s a waning of immunity.”

Fauci went on, “Hopefully we won’t see a surge; I don’t think we will. The easiest way to prevent that is to continue to get people vaccinated and for those who have been vaccinated to continue to get them boosted. So that’s where we stand right now; we can expect to see an increase, yes.”

Stephanopoulos then asked about possibly implementing more restrictions.

“We’ve seen this relaxation of restrictions all across the country right now. Any reason to reverse that?” Stephanopoulos asked the doctor.

“I don’t think so George, not right now,” Fauci answered. “I don’t see us going back into any more really very strict of restrictions.”

BUT…

Fauci continued, “But you always have to have the kind of flexibility: Remember when the CDC came out with the kind of modifications of their metrics which would lead to the guidelines of what regions or counties in the country should have a masking indoor? They made it very clear that as you pull back on restrictions, if we do see a significant surge, particularly one that might result in an increase in hospitalizations, we have to be prepared to pivot and perhaps reinstitute some of those restrictions.”

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Fauci: ‘This virus has fooled us before’

So bringing back restrictions could be in the cards.

Still, Fauci admitted, “But right now, at this point, George, I don’t see that.”

Fauci added later, “This virus has fooled us before and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant. And we don’t want to get caught flat-footed on that.”