In order to contain the latest case, Gladys Berejiklian has reintroduced COVID restrictions to the state. As history repeats, it’s best we look at what’s been said.

 

 

It seems that a man’s thirst for the right barbecue has plunged Sydney into a raft of COVID restrictions, after his wife has now tested positive to COVID-19. For those who missed the story, one Sydney man in his 50s travelled to numerous barbecue outlets over the weekend, a voyage of more than 100 kilometres and more than seven stops.

As Kevin Nguyen of the ABC noted, “The man’s nine other close contacts have returned negative swabs, but NSW Health remains concerned about a swathe of venues around Sydney the cases have visited while infectious. It’s prompted Premier Gladys Berejiklian to tighten social distancing restrictions.”

From 5 pm today to midnight Monday, no more than 20 guests (including children) to gather in a household; masks compulsory on public transport and in public indoor venues including retail, theatres, hospitals and aged care facilities; front of house hospitality staff must wear face masks; drinking while standing in an indoor venue is not allowed; singing by audiences at indoor shows or at indoor worship is not allowed; dancing is not allowed in indoor hospitality venues or clubs, except for at weddings where it’s recommended no more than 20 people are on a dancefloor at one time and visitors to aged care facilities must be limited to two people.

In April of last year, Gladys Berejiklian announced that citizens would no longer have the right to assemble with more than one person outside, besides their immediate family.

The NSW Police Force were empowered to ensure compliance with the two-person rule, under threat of a $1,000 infringement notice. And that was just one of the string of other recently enforced regulations designed to save our lives, as well as criminalise them.

At the time, Berejiklian also handed over the full reins of the COVID-19 pandemic response to NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller.

 

“A sensible escalation”

“We know there are some new laws that will come in line tonight in relation to two people being out together – that’s sensible,” the NSW police commissioner told reporters at the time. “We don’t want to have to enforce these laws.” Indeed, the transfer of power came soon after Berejiklian closed down state parliament – one day following the PM’s closure of federal parliament.

 

Obviously, this is how laws get passed in the time of COVID, after Berejiklian closed down state parliament last week –  one day following the PM’s closure of federal parliament. And now the premier has launched a police state response headed by Fuller.

 

Soon thereafter, Health Minister Brad Hazzard passed a number of public health orders with new “laws” involving social distancing and quarantining. Issued under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW), if these orders are breached a person is liable to up to 6 months prison time and/or a fine of $11,000.

According to the official lettering, “The object of this Order is to give certain Ministerial directions to deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences. In particular, this Order directs that a person must not, without reasonable excuse, leave the person’s place of residence. Examples of a reasonable excuse include leaving for reasons involving: obtaining food or other goods and services, or travelling for the purposes of work or education if the person cannot do it at home, or exercise, or medical or caring reasons.”

Last year, the NSW Police Force announced that it would have thousands of extra police on the streets enforcing COVID laws, in an attempt, as NSW police minister David Elliot put it, “to kill this virus before it kills us”.

As we may now be entering another round of restrictions, I’m wondering if we’ve learned anything from the first. I wonder, this time, will we be treated more like patients, or criminal offenders? Time will tell.

 

 

 

 

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