By Hudson Crozier
Mask & Vaccine Mandates
In Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, masks are required anywhere outside an individual’s home, including outdoors, and a curfew has been imposed.
Despite zero local COVID cases, the city of Canberra announced a mask mandate on June 27 with a fine of up to $8,000 for anyone failing to cooperate.
Western Australia has mandated the vaccine for all healthcare workers, public and private, who will have to receive their first dose by December 1 to be allowed to work.
Several states plan to implement federal vaccine records into mandatory check-in apps for public spaces that rely on QR technology and contact information to provide proof of vaccination.
Quarantine surveillance app: The state government of South Australia has developed a mandatory app relying on facial recognition and geolocation to enforce quarantine measures. Users are contacted at random times and asked to provide proof of their location. Failure to comply within 15 minutes prompts police to arrive at their door to ensure they are home. The National Cabinet will decide based on trial results whether this model is effective to apply nationwide.
Lockdowns & Travel Restrictions
Closed travel: International borders remain closed, blocking travel in and out of the country for any Australian citizen who does not qualify for an exemption. The federal government plans to reopen them once 80% of adults are fully vaccinated. The current vaccination rate is approximately 45 percent.
“COVID-zero” strategy: About half the states in Australia still hold to a “COVID-zero” strategy, refusing to ease lockdown restrictions until no cases are left within their area, while others set the mark at a 70% or higher vaccination rate for all adults.
Lockdown record: Melbourne is enduring its sixth lockdown since the pandemic began, requiring locals to stay within 5 kilometers of their homes. The total number of days the state has spent in lockdown now exceeds 200, the highest in the world.
Through it all, 90% of Australians on income support receive no payments from the federal government, and their vaccine rollout is among the slowest in the world.
Police & Military Control
Fines and arrests: As thousands of anti-lockdown protestors continue to gather across the country, police have been quick to arrest and fine as many as possible for violating "public health orders." Over 250 protestors were arrested in a single day (August 14) while hundreds more were fined, and over 38,000 drivers were stopped. Similarly, on September 18, nearly 270 protestors were arrested.
Door-to-door policing: Police have reportedly been seen in neighborhoods knocking on doors, asking residents if they’re aware of protests occurring, and warning them that they are illegal.
Military presence: Hundreds of military personnel are deployed on land and in helicopters to enforce local stay-at-home orders.
Quarantine camps: Multiple camp facilities are known as "quarantine hubs" are being built to house masses of incoming travelers.
Sydney’s “Areas of Concern”
Several small areas of Greater Sydney have been declared “local government areas of concern" and are among the most tightly restricted in the country. Among many other requirements, residents of these zones must:
- Provide a “reasonable excuse” to leave their homes according to a given list
- Provide a “reasonable excuse” from an even smaller list to break curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- Keep a mask with them at all times when not at home
- Limit physical contact to those within the household, including residential visits and car rides, given certain exceptions
- Provide proof of vaccination (if over age 16) to travel anywhere outside their local area for work by specific deadlines, depending on the job
- Provide proof of address if requested by the New South Wales (NSW) police anywhere, for any reason
- Limit wedding celebrations to 11 total people
- Limit funeral/memorial services (which cannot occur at a place of residence) to 10 attendants plus anyone necessary for conducting the service
- Keep all churches/houses of worship closed to everyone but members conducting online services, who must follow masking and social distancing requirements
What has long been considered a free society is now a warning of how freedoms can be lost when those in power capitalize on crisis, fear, and dependency.